Novel writing, Attempt #3

The photo was taken in Tunis, Tunisia

This FB memory popped up today. When I saw it, my first reaction was: Fuck, how embarrassing! Six years ago, nine months after my daughter was born, I thought I had completed my novel. How naïve was I?

Months into editing and rewriting the 70,000-word story, I realized it was absolute shit. No, this isn’t modesty. It’s just a fact. That draft was not a story. It was just a bunch of words on 140 pages. So, I tossed it. (Well, not literally, I still have a physical and digital copy.) A year later, I wrote another story and when I finished that one; I tossed it too.

But today; I am editing my third story, and in some ways, it feels like my first. Because this is the first one that has a soul and is a ‘complete’ story with a plot, characters, descriptions, scenes, and sequels. I won’t toss this one. It’s here to stay. Sure, it needs editing, but I can allow myself to celebrate the fact that I created something. And I did that, without a creative writing degree, or an MFA. I had to learn the craft on my own, and with the support of friends and a writer’s group who generously took the time to read my story and give me honest feedback.

While I often feel bad about how long it’s taken me, I try to remember that as a mom of two, life is always a balancing act. Yet, somehow, I’ve kept writing, and for that I’m proud. It took a lot. It takes a lot to continue, especially when you don’t know where the finish line is.

I learned that the first few attempts at writing a novel might be bad, but that’s ok. Through this process, I became a better writer. I learned that my inner critic can help me enhance and improve things, but that I shouldn’t let it take over. I learned that I have to be gentle with myself to finish. I learned to let go, even if it meant tossing 500 pages. After all, I had to go through all those pages to get to where I am today. 

I received some great news yesterday. Maybe if I hadn’t received that news, I wouldn’t have been as positive today seeing this Facebook memory pop up. But our emotions come and go with the sun, right? And as I write this, I’m in a celebratory mood. So I wanted to share that feeling 🙂

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