Now that I knew I could be a writer, I needed a game plan.
First off, to be honest, habits are hard to break. I still daydreamed off and on. Then there was the whole needing to manage my time and develop the discipline to just do it (aka not being lazy!). Writing is enjoyable, but it is work. It takes mental energy and, quite frankly, I wasn’t used to using mine. I continued to write that initial story. It was the foundation of my confidence in becoming a writer. I kept sending it to my sister, piece by piece, and she gave me feedback. But it was sporadic and in my mind it wasn’t really being a writer. Like, seriously months would go by in between writing sessions.
Then I read the book Divergent by Veronica Roth. A copy was making the rounds through the neighborhood and soon landed itself at my house (thanks Deanna Whaley!). In the back of this particular copy there was a question and answer section. One of the questions had to do with tips for new writers. She basically said to not go back and reread what you’ve written before. Just write. You’ll make it all flow during the editing process. I told my sister and she mentioned that if that was the case the writer better be consistent at writing so they know where they are at. Remember how I wouldn’t write for months at a time? Yeah, I ALWAYS had to reread. This was precious knowledge.
This got me thinking. If I wrote every day how long would it take me to finish a first draft of a novel? Luckily, on Facebook a friend of mine mentioned completing a novel, so I pmed him. No one knew I was a writer yet (and until this website, it was still a pretty tight circle) and telling him I was a writer was scary. I asked him about how long it would take to finish a novel. The short answer was 45 days of consistent work (Thanks Chris Jones). I immediately began writing a brand new novel. I had already begun collecting thoughts for other stories, little treasures of ideas here and there. I had written a scene out, and off that scene I based the entire story. The goal? Finish in 45 days. This was right in the middle of the holidays. I started the week before Thanksgiving 2012. I power housed it. I wrote on the holidays and would write at night, then during the days on the weekends. It was time consuming. I ended up getting sick for a week, that didn’t help the deadline, but I still finished 48 days later. There it was, a first draft.
Then came editing, which was SO bad. Editing is an art and I was inexperienced. I sent it to my sister to read. She printed it off and made notes in the margin. Now remember, she is a poet and a writer of stories herself. She’s well read. She knows a good story and she knows good writing. Plus, she is honest. She was the perfect person to send it to. I remember getting it in the mail with all the edits, questions, and praises. I got a glimpse of what it felt like to have a novel published because there was my novel in print right before my eyes. It was beautiful. I devoured her notes. I developed the story. I fixed plot holes, I made sentences clearer. It was work, but I came out with a better novel. I then gave it to a trusted friend. When she finished we went to dinner and discussed it. Her encouragement, fantastic critique and questions helped the story to once again become better. I remember she told me, “This story deserves to be told.” That was, and still is, a compliment of the highest order.
My husband read it next. I needed a guy’s opinion. This was probably the most fearful of the process because here’s the thing, he’s blunt and never lies. Like ever. He told me it was rough in some spots and needed to be flushed out, but that I was a good writer and had potential. I’ll take that. I’ll take that gladly!
I’ve been writing ever since. That novel isn’t ready to be shared. It was a learning opportunity and it still needs to be molded a bit more. I’m going to rewrite it after I finish my current projects. Point is, I learned I was a writer. I did it and I continue to do it. In the process of coming to this knowledge I learned more about myself. One of those gems of knowledge is you can’t hide who you are. At first I didn’t tell anyone. I’m not published. Can you be a writer if your work isn’t out there? I feared what they’d say. That maybe they thought I was silly or that I couldn’t do it. All that stuff doesn’t really matter though. You gotta shuck all that nonsense off. A lot of days I’m still talking myself into believing what I already discovered. I’m a writer and I write.