Wednesday, November 28, 2012

On Giving Up

The novel that I'm working on now, I wrote the rough draft during NaNoWriMo 2010. I had a lot of fun on that original draft, but, of course, when I went back and read it, I realized that most of it was horrendous. No big deal. My NaNoWriMos were always horrendous after that first draft.

I really liked this story though, so I dug into edits. When I showed it to some fellow writers, I got helpful comments. I edited some more. I showed my first chapter to an online critique group. Of course, the first person to leave a review completely ripped it to shreds, telling me that it was more or less the crappiest crap that he had ever set eyes on. Of course I handled it like a mature adult.

(Something like this)

Then a few days passed and I got several more reviews. Reviews that were much more helpful. I was appeased. (Plus in looking at the profile of the negative reviewer, I saw that he pretty much prided himself on being a gigantic ass, so I was able to take his review with a grain of salt.) I started editing again.

Later I showed some of my revamped chapters to my local writing friends. Got some great feedback, but also some more advice for changes. I saw they were right and grit my teeth and got down to more edits. By 2012, I got to where I had only three more chapters to edit. I showed some bits to my writer friends. They suggested I switch the point of view of the novel into first person. I tried this with the first chapter and realized I liked the sound of it a lot better. Of course, this meant I now had to go through and completely switch a 70,000+ word novel into first person.

(This made me feel something like this.)

Fast forward to this month. After something like a three-month novel vacation in which I dealt with 24/7 morning sickness instead, I'd finally gotten the chance to dig into switching my manuscript into first person.

And even though at this point, I had read my novel a bajillion times, as I edited, I still found myself thinking, "Oh yay! I really like this part!" in every chapter. In short, I was thrilled with what my manuscript had shaped into. I just had those last three chapters to rework and then I'd be done. All of the continuous editing, all the blood, sweat and tears would have been worth it and I would finally be able to start querying for a literary agent.

And then I had the bright idea of entering a contest. I should have known better. This pregnancy thing has got my hormones all out of whack, and I'm definitely prone to overly-dramatic thoughts and weeping and self-hating at random times. It was a query contest. I wrote up one that I thought was awesome. I knew I'd be sure to get a few bites. Well, it sat there and sat there and sat there. It's still sitting there today without a single reply, while it seems like posts around me are all marked up with requests for pages.

I was a little hurt. Then I convinced myself I didn't care. Then — again, I really should have known better — I found a place where I could post up my brand sparkling new first 10 pages for comments. It sat there for over a week without a single comment while all the other boards seemed to be soaking them up. Then a few days ago I checked and saw there was a comment. I knew I was already in a weepy mood that night. I told myself I should not look at it now. I knew it was a bad idea. I clicked anyway. To sum up, the response from the person was basically, "Meh."

(Again, I handled it like an adult.)
I basically ran to the bedroom, shut the door and sobbed into my pillow. I told myself I was done. I quit. This novel is never going to be good enough. I was stupid to think I ever had enough talent to pull it off. I was done wasting my time. I was never going to write again. I'd spend all my time watching TV or playing Sims. ANYTHING else would be better. I was just going to delete my whole novel right now.

.... or maybe in the morning. I didn't even want to get out of bed. I'd do it in the morning.

That morning I walked by my computer, ignoring it. I went to work. I did my job. I came home. I tried to read, but every book I picked up made me angry. I'd pick up one book and hate the author because I knew I wrote better than this and yet THIS person had a book in print. I'd pick up another book and hate myself because this author wrote so much better than I did and I'd never be this good. I threw the books down and spent the rest of the evening watching TV. This continued for two or three days.

(I imagine I looked like this.)
But last night I was on my computer, goofing off on the internet. I don't know why, but I opened my novel file. I stared at where I had left off. I read over what I'd written. I liked it. A lot. I still loved the characters. I still loved the story. I sat down and finished rewriting that scene. Before I knew it, I'd partially re-written the next scene too before I noticed how late it was and decided to get in bed.

I don't think there's any real "moral" to this story. I just wanted to share my struggles in case it helps other writers who are going through the same thing. You're not alone. I am continually feeling beaten down and defeated as I work on this novel. But no matter how many setbacks I've had, I just can't give it up. I can't quit working on it. I love this story and I think, if I can figure out how to tell it in the right way, others will too.

So I'm not stopping.

I'm doing this until I get it right, no matter how long it takes.

* All moving images from this post were borrowed from Title to Come on Tumblr, which is the most hilarious site for writers ever. You should go see it. *

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