How long did it take to write my first novel? Even I don’t know the answer to that. Truthfully, I didn’t even keep track of time. I just wrote. Wrote for the sheer joy of it, carefully choosing one particular word over another. Finding happiness in the way the sentences flowed with one another, watching as the word count crept up, day by day.
I do know the initial process stretched over a span of several months, but less than a year. And, yet there were days, weeks even, where I didn’t sit down to write at all. I have a nearly full-time job outside the home – one that on any given day can suck the creativity right out of you – so I couldn’t work on my book for large blocks of time, either. Although, if you’d asked my husband and kids, when I was in the thick of things, it was all I ever did.
Emotional scarring and burnt dinners aside, I think we all fared well over the course. The editing and rewriting, however, are another story. Well. Same story, just more work.
Editing is all about hacking away and tightening up and cutting out. It’s hard to determine which portions of your blood, sweat and tears you’ll leave on the cutting room floor and which will end up in your final work. Far more difficult than writing the whole damn thing in the first place.
All the what ifs come into play during the editing process. “What if I cut out part of the backstory that the reader would find interesting?” “What if I leave in too much, make it too wordy?” Or even worse, “What if I ax the world’s next great passage of shear literary brilliance?” Although, if this were the case, I’d hope I’d have enough sense to recognize it before it went to the chopping block. But sometimes when it’s your own head, it’s more difficult to see it even when it’s in front of your own face. Exactly. It’s nearly impossible. Unless, of course you’re looking in a mirror, but then that defeats the whole purpose of this analogy, doesn’t it?
Yep. For me, the hardest part definitely comes when the book’s finally “done”. When you have to re-read your own work with a critical eye, the eye of a reader versus a writer. To look at it and say, “Are you the best you can be?”, because sometimes, it can never seem good enough.