Tuesday, October 23, 2012

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.