During the past month, I’ve made progress. Unfortunately the amount remains minuscule because I want to be more meticulous incorporating my editor’s advice.
Over the years, as I learned more about writing, my fascination with the process grew. Initially, once the birth of the story arc occurred, I thought my innate writing style would flesh out the story. In retrospect, I exhibited the naivety of a “blooming novelist”.
I now realize writing a good, compelling story involves numerous elements. Tackling these components requires less spontaneity and more focused creativity. Using this methodology I’ve rewritten several chapters, but instead of flowing onto the page, my words pour like molasses. The result: my writing became more engaging. A goal I hope to achieve for my entire novel.
I’ve been frustrated with my progress this month. Having an analytical mind, I wanted to discover its source. My editor/writing coach completed the first edit back in November. She stated the story had good structure. The changes wouldn’t involve a tear down, but just a remodel. She wanted me to focus on nine areas that needed improvement.
Naively I hoped for just a couple of tweaks and then preparation for publication. My story needs much more work and this became the source of my frustration.
The spontaneity of the rough draft had disappeared. Now every sentence requires more introspection and the judicious use of words.
Additionally, elements I really liked had to be “remodeled”. For example, I enjoyed describing a damselfish “pugnaciously defending its territory like a feisty Tinker Bell”. This reference to Peter Pan’s loyal servant ended up on the cutting floor as being too cute for my thriller genre. My editor/writing coach hit the nail on the head, but I’ll still miss this image.
My friend, Bill Percy, who has published two novels told me: “I enjoy the work after the editor has gotten done with it. Always feels like the work gets stronger, and the ‘art’ more creative”.
I do find myself getting more creative. I just have to accept this segment of the process. It’s time for me to take a deep breath and move forward.
With the strong flow of political news from Washington, D.C. this month, I momentarily thought about spinning my progress like a politician. Instead, the following words popped into my mind: “The truth will set you free”.
During the first half of the month, I accomplished a variety of tasks but remained undisciplined as a writer. I began the chapter after the prologue, but never finished its rewrite.
A scheduled visit by my two daughters occurred during the second half of the month. My oldest arrived first and we caught up on the wonderful work she is doing at her non-profit, New Politics. My second daughter arrived with her husband and two adorable grandchildren: a two and a half-year old girl and a four-month old boy. With unmitigated joy, the five adults spent their time entertaining and caring for the two little ones which left my writing dormant.
Even with all this activity my story and future edits kept floating in my consciousness. Since the truth has set me free, I can now approach April with more persistence. Hopefully at the end of next month, I will have more to progress to report.
As the rabbit flies by the plodding tortoise, another month has passed. I continue to toil with my rewrites. Basically I’ve been stuck on the “Prologue” attempting to connect the potential reader with my story. A task that is harder than you may think.
I’m not sure how long it will take to complete the current rewrite, but I did receive some solace from the acknowledgement by Terry Hayes in his 2014 first novel, I Am Pilgrim.
Mr. Hayes is an award winning writer and producer of numerous movies. His novel is a 607-page thriller worthy of your attention. In acknowledging those who helped him he stated: “I think it was John Irving, the winner of both the National Book Award for a novel and the Oscar for a screenplay, who said, ‘Writing a movie is like swimming in a bath; writing a novel is like swimming in the ocean.’ I had read that comment long before I embarked on Pilgrim, but even then I wasn’t prepared for just how big the ocean was and how much effort it would take to cross it.”
Amen, Mr. Hayes. I totally concur!
I find the process of writing a novel fascinating. At the end of last year, I noted how my editor gave me advice on how to improve my novel. Besides plot, character development, and theme, many nuances exist. All of her suggestions rang true and I began implementing them. By simply focusing on these nuances, I believe my story has become stronger.
Not sure how long the process will take, but I know it will be worth it. I have mentioned before that a first time novelist takes anywhere from five to twenty-five years to complete a novel. The first few months of my fifth year have passed.
Hopefully my writing will improve enough for a review by beta readers. Publication usually occurs once their inputs are incorporated. Will this happen at the end of this year, or perhaps by 2018? The answer is unknown.
Since I’m a first timer, I will need to be patient and allow the process to unfold. Whatever the timeframe, I’m confident the first book of the trilogy will reflect a good effort.
As 2016 winds down and I enter my fifth year of writing, I want to thank you for your continued support. May you have a happy, healthy, prosperous New Year!
See you in 2017!!
Mark, just another blooming novelist
After five years of monthly blog entries, I’ve decided to take a two-month break. I have a pretty good excuse. The birth of a grandson coupled with helping his two-year old sister. I’ll post a new update at the end of January 2017, but as a teaser I will report that my novel received its first edit.
My writing coach indicated, “the plot arc is solid and the characters are interesting and engaging. I don’t think the revision will be difficult, because the structure is good. It’s a remodel, not a tear down”. This may leave you with the impression that only are few tweaks are necessary.
Before the new baby arrived I had a constructive conversation with my coach. I still have much work ahead to improve my novel. I’m charged up and ready to rock and roll once I’m able to stop holding and cuddling my grandchildren.
As the saying goes, I will see you next year. May you and your family have a joyous holiday season and a healthy, happy New Year.