We’re back to reality today, after a week-long break (if it can be called that, considering we were so sick we could barely move). Kayla’s been dropped off at school, which means it’s back to work for me too after a mini-break from writing. Well, writing The Physician’s Apprentice anyway – I’ve been sporadically working on other stuff.
Being back in routine is comforting, but also all kinds of intimidating. I mentioned in another post that I’ve been feeling super distanced from TPA. While the notes I got from Cat were really inspiring, this feeling hasn’t fully passed. I look at the revision file and it’s like I don’t really know what to do with it.
I’ve been working on this project for so long now that the story has become as good as my left arm, which is why this distance I’m feeling from it is so distressing. I really want to be done with this now, move on to book two.
When you’re in this situation, people will tell you the novel will never be perfect and that continuing to work on it won’t make it any better. Just publish it already.
I may not be sure how to get the revisions done, but I’m sure that this isn’t the advice I need.
I read this blog post the other day and it pretty much nails how I feel about TPA. I’m five drafts in, a fact that used to make me feel more than inadequate. But you know what, screw that. Anyone who creates anything has a process. Mine involves finding out truths about the story and characters as I go, and applying what I’ve learned to various drafts. Does this make me a lesser writer? No.
Nobody cares how the book was written, only that it was actually written.
My process involves rewrites and plot changes and coming at a character from the opposite angle, and it works for me. So, five drafts in, I’m still not done. In fact, sometimes I feel like it would be the best thing to shelf this project for a while and come back to it when I have more experience – which is apparently the kind of feeling you get when you’re close to the final draft. The point is, this novel hasn’t reached the as is stage yet.
I’ve been an artist my entire life. Back in high school when I had to set up my very first portfolio, I remember having to paint and sketch a bunch of stuff and not quite knowing what I was doing. I didn’t understand colour and composition in those days, not like I do now. So, as you can imagine, a lot of the art I made looked like the stuff painted by a high school student. I didn’t know when the work was done, or where a colour lacked, or where the composition was off. Now, these things are more instinctive.
And that’s the point I’m trying to make here. With my first novels, I lacked the instinct that I’ve since developed. I’m still learning about writing every day, as I’m still learning about art, but there comes a time when you know in your gut that it’s not done yet. You look at the bigger picture and you realise a little tweak here and changing that line will make the world’s difference.
Just publish it already is why indie authors have such a bad reputation. So many novels are published before they’re really ready. I think that adds weight to the responsibility we have to put our best work into the world (if you’re looking for some people to help you reach that point, check this list).
If you, like me, are stuck five or more drafts in, try not to lose hope. I did for a minute there, but I’m going to dust myself off and try again. Don’t listen to the nay-sayers. Don’t give in just to get them off your back. Keep working and follow your gut. There’s no right way to do this, folks, but I believe you’ll find your way if you keep on going.
So this is me, pushing forward. I have a novel to revise.
Have a good week,