There are three moments in a book where I stall, attempt to convince myself that I’m a crappy writer and no one in the world will like it. I have to muster up the will to keep going and not start the story over (or start something entirely new).
Chapter One: I am convinced this is a terrible idea. No one is going to want to read it…except me…which is why I’m writing it. I shrug my shoulders and say oh well, gritting my teeth against the evil inner critic. I remind myself that my Chapter One probably begins later in the book, so I might as well get the blahs over with. Worst case scenario? I’ll just write it as a guilty pleasure and call it a holiday.
(Note: This happens on EVERY project, no matter the idea or excitement level. I just think my first chapter of a rough draft is a poor interpretation of what I see in my mind)
8-12K: I break over the chapter one blahs to hit a good stride for about a day or so. Then I hit around the 7.5K mark and screech to a halt. Every word after this is like agony until I reach chapter three or so. Why so early? At the 8-12K mark I start reevaluating the relationship of my characters (if there is one, at this point which is a WHOLE other blog post). I think the plot is pathetic, the characters are idiots, I should just give up now, and no one will like this!
Once I break over 12K, I tend to smooth out for a while. I’ve made a choice, and am sticking with it (for better or for worse) until the bitter end. Before I know it, I’m having fun with the characters, experiencing their lives, following their adventures, etc. It’s an amazing thrill ride with a few snags here or there. I usually make notes as I go (thank you comments feature on word!) to keep me on track.
Then I reach the end.
The end: Whether it’s the last bit, the final rally of the troops, the sensual completion of the relationship, or the last death-defying explosion, I find a moment where I want to scream my frustration. I’ve convinced myself that the story is terrible, that no one will want to read it. I should just give up. Every word is like pulling teeth…full of blood, sweat, tears, and agony.
The important thing about this entire post is this: at no time do I stop writing. If I stopped working every time I had a negative thought, I would never have left the nest back in ’97 to find my adventures in the medical side of military life. I would have never flown across the country to meet the man who would become my husband. My children would never have been. I would have never started writing in the first place. The list goes on and on.
So what is it about writing that makes people give up and walk away?
It’s hard work. I wish I would have listened to my mentors when they told me this. Writing is so much more than the book of your heart. It’s a state of mind. There are plenty of moments that are a rush of fun and excitement…but you have to have grit to get through the rough patches.
I’m transitioning out of the military into full-time writing status. The Air Force has been great to me, and I love the life it’s given me (oh the places I’ve been, the things I’ve seen), but it’s time to start the new chapter of my life.
So I will bear down through the rough patches of WIP (work in progress) after WIP…I will gnash my teeth and type through the characters I’m convinced are only awesome in my mind…and I will do so with a smile in my heart. My husband is giving me the gift of this opportunity, and I won’t let him down.
To my readers out there…you make this worth it. Every day.