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The Novelist's Journey--Is It Worth It????

The other day my mother-in-law informed me that she wanted to write a novel.  Her enthusiasm and passion about the project caused me to think back on my own experience as a writer.  To say the least, my journey has certainly been filled with lots of ups and downs.

Heck, how I got through the first year still boggles me. I dove into my project head first and completed the entire draft within ten months. Then, without editing the piece, I proudly posted the story on an online critique site, half expecting the reviewers to gush over it.  Needless to say,  I was sorely disappointed by the feedback I received.  I learned there were enough point of view shifts to inflict whiplash on a reader.  My plot had more holes than a warehouse filled with Swiss cheese, and the characters were one-dimensional.

Essentially, my grasp of the basic fundamentals of fiction writing was nonexistent. After licking my wounds for about three months, I realized I missed the craft. The experience of creating a whole new universe filled with eclectic characters and intriguing places (at least in my eyes), somehow completed me.   I also accepted the reality that my novel may never be published. If I took on the project again it had to be for personal enrichment.

As a competitive person, I refused to put myself in the position of producing another poorly written draft. My ego could only take so many beatings.  I purchased several "How to" books,read them from front to back, took a couple of online workshops and practiced, practiced, practiced.  When I felt confident in my abilities (after about 6 months of trial and error), I began the second draft. A year later, I submitted the finished product to the same online critique site where I'd posted the original. The feedback I received was light years from the previous reviews. I am now finishing the third draft and IMHO it is much better than the second.

In retrospect, I could have avoided a lot of heartache if I had taken a few workshops and bought the "how to" books first.  In fact, I'd probably be halfway through my second novel by now.  However, I would have also missed the experience that turned me into a more resilient, strong and tenacious writer. The humbling journey helped me to realize my passion for the craft.  For this reason alone, I wouldn't change a thing.  

Posting my experience here also got me to wondering about other writers. I'd be interested to know how you became secure enough to write your novel.  What was your journey like? Do you feel it was worth it, would you do it again or would you change some things? Until next time, happy writing.      


  1. All I can say is that it is really really hard work every step of the way, and there needs to be passion for the work to see it through.

    1. Amen to that, KarenG. You have to love what you do. Without passion I would have abandoned my WIP a long time ago. Thanks for stopping in to comment on my post.

  2. Sometimes I think it takes "failing" to realize you can win. I worked on the same project for years before finally deciding I wasn't messing around anymore. I re-wrote the book - finished about 3/4 of it and had a realization that I couldn't market the book as it was. It felt terrible. I set it aside and started on the story that I knew would have a chance of reaching my goal. It's amazing how much more confidence I have writing this current wip just because I've proven that I have the guts to admit when something needs to change and do it.

    1. WOW! D.V. sounds like we lived in parallel writing universes.(: I had a similar experience, thus the reason for the third draft of my novel. An agent expressed interest in it a year ago, but I never submitted the project. It just wasn't ready. I'll get there someday.

      Also, FWIW, I'm not sure failure caused me to realize I could win, but it certainly helped me to appreciate my successes.

      Thanks for stopping in to comment on my post. It's good to know I'm not the only writer who hit some ruts in the road.

    2. Heh, no problem. Sometimes I feel like you can't be an aspiring writer without ruts being a part of your routine :p
      Oh, and just a heads up that I tagged you on my blog.

    3. Hi D.V. Thanks for stopping in. Ruts is a good descriptor for what new writers go through, LOL. BTW, thanks for the tag.

  3. Replies
    1. Hi Michael. Thanks for stopping in. Although there are numerous books on my shelves I will list the ones I found the most useful.

      1) Characters, Emotion & Viewpoint, by Nancy Kress. She did a great job simplifying POV and characterization.

      2)(Writing The Breakout Novel, By Donald Maas. His explanation of multiple Points of view and pacing was very helpful.

      3) Stephen King, On Writing. Although it's very wordy, which is vintage King, he makes some very good points and the advice he gives is useful.

      4)WRiter's Workshop of Horror, Edited by Michael Knost. This is a great tool. It's written by several authors and each one gives his take on what he/she feels is important in writing. The information is very useful, but parts of it are dense and I didn't find it as user friendly as the above noted books. All the same, it's a must have. It contains valuable info.

      5) Manuscript Makeover, by Elizabeth Lyon. This is essential. It really helped me hone my editing skills. I listed it last because you probably won't use the info until the final draft. Still, much of the information has proved useful during the writing process.

      I have six books on my shelf, but the above noted texts were the most useful. Hope this helps.

  4. I would have to agree with the others in that it's a matter of being stubborn and working hard. I'm glad to hear you stuck with it. If anything, we can always work at improving our craft.

    1. So true, Cindy. The tenacious will finish the game, so to speak. Thanks for stopping in and commenting on my post.


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