Three weeks ago I was absolutely over the moon because, drum roll please, I had finished the first draft of my first book. A four year project (well, really one year with three years of life getting in the way) that had finally, finally come to its first major milestone – a completed first draft.
I promptly did what any sane person would do. I threw it in a virtual drawer and ignored it for a couple of weeks. I figured letting it ferment would allow me to gain some objectivity in the revision process..
I also had a host of pressing art obligations and a second book idea clamoring to be outlined before NaNoWriMo in November.So, I let it sit. The longer it sat, the less I wanted to delve back into my original manuscript. When I finally reopened the file, my worst fears were realized.
My book sucked. Big time. I wasn’t looking at revisions so much as rewrites. I didn’t really have a working first draft after all.
On the plus side, my experience with my fabulous critique group has sharpened my writing skills. I am more focused, more concise, my word choices are better, my dialogue is sharper –I am a far better writer than I was a year ago.
But now, as I reopen those early chapters, I see just how little I understood about constructing a novel, creating tension, bringing a voice to life and I am finding the revision process daunting, to say the least.
The first day, I sat in front of the computer for thirty minutes before just plain giving up. On day two, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and decided I was going to make this happen come hell or high water.
I started work on the first two chapters. Things were working better but I still didn’t have a master plan. I hated the idea of “wasting” a couple of weeks just planning it all out on little index cards. Still, as I sat down to write each day, a tiny voice kept whispering to me that I was wasting far more time by wandering around in the forest looking up at the sky, when what I really needed to do was look down and try to find a proper path.
So, here I am, working out a master plan for fixing the issues with my novel. It’s not as bad as I had feared, and the more planning I do, the less intimidating the revisions, which is not to say I won’t have months of work ahead of me, but at least I won’t be walking around in circles. See you on the other side.