Last November, I wrote my very first novel during National Novel Writing Month. I chronicled my adventures on the blog and did a happy dance on Thanksgiving Eve in the wee hours when I finished.
I dutifully walked away as experts advised and let it sit for the month of December. In January, I thought about it but was busy implementing the 2009 Master Plan (cue ominous music).
Spring came and I finally took my USB drive to the printer and printed out my first draft. I giggled all the way home as I looked over at the box of printed papers that represented my first “first draft.”
Later that day I opened the box with nervous anticipation – Would it be so awful that I would cry? Was the whole thing a big dream? – I started to read and smiled as I found myself enjoying “my novel.” Yes, there were holes and inconsistencies, and things to be fixed but overall I did not want to burn it.
Each day I opened my box and made notes on the pages, periodically checking books and sites on editing to answer questions. I was working at my book and it felt good.
I got through my first rough edit and now it was time to type. I closed the box with every intention of continuing my work…the box taunted me in the open so I moved it to a shelf. I moved it to dust but there it sat until this week.
Tired of my inaction, I pulled my dust free box off the shelf and moved it to my office where it sits with “First Draft” written proudly on the top (as if I would forget what’s in there) screaming at me to open it. Okay, not screaming but whispering very loudly.
In spite of our best intentions, we can get off track. For awhile I felt like a failure for not making progress on my goal. Today, I choose a new beginning. I may have missed my own self-imposed deadline but I learned new things and endured challenges which can only help me to view my book with a fresh perspective.
Today is a new day. Today is the day that I write again. I am not finished but I am getting started.
Any words of wisdom to share? Are you dusting off any goals of your own? Shall we encourage one another to the finish line?
Jeanne Dininni says
One great thing is that, barring any major disasters, your novel will still be there whenever you’re ready to begin working on it again. Don’t think of yourself as having failed in some way because you’ve procrastinated a bit on it. I’m sure you’ve accomplished other things in the interim. Every day is a new day with new opportunities to start again–even if we haven’t lived up to what we’ve felt we should have done yesterday or the day before…and even if we don’t do so today. One day that novel will be complete, and you’ll see that it didn’t really matter that you left it sit for a while to pursue other projects before finishing it.
Besides, I believe in always looking at the bright side: Perhaps the cash advance fee you’ll get for your book will be a lot higher by then! 😉
I would certainly imagine that the process of writting a novel would represent an enormous long term challenge, and I have a great deal of respect for anyone who reaches the stage of having a completed draft.
Maybe, after reaching an important stage on the road to your long term goal, you were right to take a break for awhile, as Janice said. In any event, I am glad to hear that you are now free to get back to it with a great deal of enthusiasm.
.-= Andrew´s last blog ..One wage rise which should definately be opposed =-.
Karen Swim says
To everyone – Your comments lifted me up and made me believe! I hope I can return the favor in spades! Thank you!
@A.B. Wow!!! You are a great inspiration and a testament to the craft of writing. So often we get caught up in the “instant” generation mentality but it does not always happen that way. Thank you for sharing your story and proving that there is more than one way to write a novel! I can’t wait to read yours!
@Lillie, you have played a big role in my writing. Your advice, encouragement and your own book on my shelf remind me to plug away and it will get done.
@Brad, you may be right. Sometimes we think we’re ready but God has a few more things to teach us. I really hope the break was good but now I’m on fire!
@Wendi and @Alex your back to back comments made me feel like I had two cheering angels coaching me to success. I love you both, fireballs on two continents!
@Wendi, tel it sister! I do have a novel to dust off and edit and by golly that is reason to rejoice! I have a novel, whoo hoo, I have a novel!
@Alex, you are so balanced in your life, your perspective. In addition to your awesome gift of writing and pushing others to success you really have a gift for living. Your words…priceless. I am dusted off and fired up!
Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome says
I’ve walked away from my writing several times in my life, taking as long as a three-year break, and yet I’ve always come back, each time readier and more willing to do the work involved in making my writing the best it can be.
And yes, while sometimes I regret having taken the time off, I say “I’m here now and I’m doing it now. That’s enough”.
.-= Alex Fayle | Someday Syndrome´s last blog ..The Right Kind of Action =-.
Wendi Kelly-Life's Little Inspirations says
Timing is everything and heck, you have a novel to dust off and edit. That is more than you had last summer at this time!
If your spirit is nipping at you now…then now is when you are feeling the pull strong enough to take action. Ride the wave and don’t beat yourself up, it isn’t productive.
Hurrah for Karen and the novel!
Don’t forget..Baby steps, You don’t have to do it all at once.
Water wears down the jagged stone…..
.-= Wendi Kelly-Life’s Little Inspirations´s last blog ..Stolen Moments. =-.
Brad Shorr says
Hi Karen, Maybe you missed your self imposed goals because you weren’t ready to write the novel just then. You have incredible talent. Maybe now your story is ready to come out of hiding and be written. I certainly hope that’s the case!
.-= Brad Shorr´s last blog ..Blogs and the Fear of Going Naked in Front of Competitors =-.
Lillie Ammann says
I’m so excited to hear you’re getting back to your novel and you and Cath have created a support group for each other. I’m eager to read both of your novels. I was most productive writing when I was in a critique group and wanted to show up every week with a chapter so I wouldn’t be embarrassed to be the only one not writing.
A. B. England says
I have to agree with Ms. Cartier on one point, sometimes we take a bit longer to go back for another rewrite for a reason. I can’t count the times I’ve nearly given up on my first novel over the past fourteen or so years. (Yes, I said fourteen. I’ve spent literally just over half my life on this thing, so you better believe I’ve experienced some fear over it.)
Finishing it seems like this hurtle that keeps moving further out of reach, but I’m finally starting to catch up to it, I think. (Hey, it only took 100+ rewrites.) Thanks to classes, practice, writing groups, and the life experiences I’ve gained in the past five years since the last rewrite, I have the skills now to bring the written story up to par with what’s in my head.
First novels take time to get right. Structuring fiction is a whole different ballgame than academic or journalistic writing, and it takes a few practice swings before you learn how to hit the ball let alone knock it out of the park.
Karen Swim says
Kellye, your smiling face cheered my day! Perfection is highly overrated! LOL! Trudging onward and excited about the journey, but if I forget, I’ll look for you okay? 🙂
Karen Swim says
Robert, lol, well not totally a wreck just a little you know delayed! LOL! Cath Lawson and I decided to form a writing support group to cheer each other on to the finish line, you want in?
Karen Swim says
Well Jan, if I had to be totally honest, and I will, part of the time was good old honest sifting but then sifting turned into procrastination which morphed into doubt which had a party in my soul and left party favors of fear. Luckily, I’m not real fond of fear, and had to evict the nasty critter. 🙂
Kellye Crane says
Good for you, Karen! Perfectionism can be an albatross — how many people would have given up at that stage? Every step you take toward this major goal is an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your journey with us.
Robert Hruzek says
Oh, come now, Karen; it’s not really a train wreck, is it? I mean, sure, you might hafta write and rewrite it about 397 times, but at least ya got the bones – the framework – of a finished work there, right?
Hey, give yourself credit when it’s deserved – you’re probably ahead of about 99-999/1000 of the rest of us!
(Can’t wait to see how this drama turns out…)
Janice Cartier says
Off track? Or just letting it sift a bit?
Sometimes things take some time AWAY too. That away time comes for a reason I think. Kind of fresh eyes to the project time. Especially if it is an important one. And if it is a spec project, There’s no one but ourselves to determine when it is time to get at it again. For you now, it is time.
I have a big project that is in a box. But even in the box, I’ve been working on it all along. Sometime soon I ‘ll even pull it out and put the paint on it. But the sifting. That sifting had to take place too.
.-= Janice Cartier´s last blog ..Keep It Simple Silly =-.