Just When You Think You’re Done . . .

Just when you think you’re done, you look up and there’s more. You’re tired. You’ve already been at it for a long while. You’ve put so much work into it and you thought it was pretty darn good.

Then you go to a writing seminar. Delivered by a well-known literary agent. And you realize you still have another flight of stairs to climb. Maybe more.

I’m talking about that story you’re writing. The one you’ve had on the go for the past – um, I don’t know – twenty years?

That would be me. I haven’t been working on it for twenty years, but the concept has been there for at least that long. The actual writing has been going since 2009. Off and on. Mostly off. Until recently.

I have a good solid ten chapters done with this particular novel, with another five in the sketchy draft stage. I’m finding it so hard to write because the emotions run high and they are pouring out through my fingers to the computer keyboard. Seeing the words on a big white screen is very, very scary. It’s like I am exposing the very core of myself. And I wonder if I really want people to read this stuff. What will they think? Will the term “nut case” be confirmed once and for all? Will eyebrows be raised and heads be shaking in disbelief?

So I go to this seminar last night. I greatly admire the man and respect his position in the industry. And he’s good. Very good. What he has to say to aspiring writers is always worthwhile and totally applicable. Except yesterday I was pretty sure he had read my novel in its entirety. Even the parts I haven’t written yet. That’s how it felt to me. I frantically scribbled notes as fast as I could write and got eight pages of stuff. Good stuff. Stuff that will make my story awesome.

Today, when I attempted to transcribe my notes – I forgot that I never was very good at reading shorthand, even my own – something amazing happened. The “stuck” parts of my story just fell into place. Totally. Completely. Absolutely. The foggy places became very clear. The nail-biter ending got down to the first knuckles. The parallels and symbolism were unbelievably obvious. I am so excited!

But it always comes at a cost, right?

Revisions. Again!

I know I have a lot of work ahead of me. And my very special accountability buddy, who nags me into staying on the straight and narrow with this, will make sure I do.

Another flight of stairs. Just when you think you’re done.



Filed under Being Creative, Blogging, Humor, Imagination, Writing

4 responses to “Just When You Think You’re Done . . .

  1. Wendy, I must share this with you. You will know where it applies within your post above:

    “I have always thought that one of the obligations of a writer is to expose as much of himself as possible, to be as open and honest as he can manage–among other reasons so that his readers can see in what he writes a reflection of themselves, weaknesses and strengths, courage and cowardice, good and evil. Isn’t that one of the reasons writing is perhaps the most painful of the arts?”

    (From Merle Miller, “On Being Different,” p. 36.)

    This week, working on my own novel, I realized the process of writing is one discovery after another, each revealing itself over time, the deeper you get into the story, the more rewriting and editing you do. In fact, I had a revelation so big, the breath was knocked out of me, and I had to sit back in my chair for a few moments and take it all in.

    Increasingly, this is what I’ve learned writing is–just when you think you’ve got it, you don’t. That is its magic, which, fortunately, will find its way into your finished story.

    Don’t despair. It’s all meant to be. It’s all for the good.

  2. Chris Jordan

    Thanks for sharing this post today. I have a story that’s been in my heart and mind since 1999 – thirteen and a half years – and I only started writing the first draft last November during NaNoWriMo. But it has been mostly off since then… so busy! But I have a story to tell, and I don’t want to give up until it’s done! I’m thinking very hard about picking up this story again and doing NaNoWriMo again this year (even though technically you’re not supposed to continue a previously started novel). I need the motivation sometimes to keep at my writing. Thanks for your post – you are a blessing and an inspiration!

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