It has been a long road since I started writing my novel Blood Feud. The journey began in April of 2012. I remember it well — a month of straight writing where the ideas just flowed like water. They pooled onto the page with little effort as months of thinking about my story and characters finally found a permanent place on the page. My story flourished but my poor family suffered from neglect. So at the end of the month and about 50,000 words later, I took a break. A few weeks later I came back to my marvelous work of art to realize everything I had written was total crap. And that pretty much sums up the next four years. Awesome spurts of writing where words flowed and family suffered just to end up with… yep you guessed it, more crap.
That my friends is the way of the writer as I am sure some of you are quite familiar with.
But something happened in my fifth year of writing. During my sixtieth (and really that’s not much of an exaggeration) rewrite of Blood Feud, the crap fell away and a good story finally started to form. At least to the point where I felt confident enough to send my work to a professional author, editor, and friend (Michael Knost) so he could tell me it was crap too. And to my surprise, he said it was a pretty awesome story.
One of the first pieces advice I received as a young writer (about eight or nine years ago now) from multiple sources (mostly from writing books and sage advice from published authors) was that to be successful at writing one must join a writing group. I was told writing groups would make me a better writer by giving me a place to talk and learn about writing as well as put me around other like-minded individuals for the support I needed to keep writing.
I took that advice to heart and joined a writers group two years after I began my cool hobby of writing, because I wanted to take my cool hobby to the next level.
It was the best decision of my life.
Until that defining moment of joining my first writing group, writing was a fancy. Something I did in my spare time. I had big ideas of being published, but it was a pie in the sky kind of thing. Joining a writing group made me realize that writing isn’t as romantic as I first thought. It’s lot of hard work (and a building of strict discipline and great effort), but work that had a hell of a pay off in the end (and I’m not talking about being published).
Through the help of my new writing friends, I learned that writing was not just something to do or some passing fancy for me, it was a way of life… my new way of life. And for two years, I went to every single writing meeting religiously (every other Saturday afternoon). And no sickness or excuse would keep me from going (okay, so if I was running a fever I wouldn’t go, but you get the idea).
Then I started getting restless. Something was wrong, very wrong and I didn’t know what it was. The meetings weren’t as fulfilling anymore and more times than not I would come home from a meeting totally frustrated, wondering why I’d wasted hours talking about writing and other things that had nothing to do with writing (because my writing group did love to get off topic a lot).
The end. The most two satisfying words a writer can ever write. The end. Two words standing alone that means more than all other words put together. And as those two words are written and then stared at in shocked disbelief, a rush of emotions hit in one great punch. Ecstatic happy dancing commences… Swirling ribbons of sadness twist in the stomach at the realization that a great journey is finally over… But mostly a profound relief settles and solidifies as the truth finally hits home… after countless days of hard work, overcoming large bouts of self-doubt and writer’s block, constant rewrites and edits, and grueling self imposed hours The End finally came.
Yeah, that was me three weeks ago as I finished my novel Blood Feud.
Granted, I’m not completely done. I sent the last draft out to pre-readers to get some feedback. Once I hear back, I may make a few changes here or there, but for the most part it’s done. And even though I say that and have had three weeks to bask in my novels completion, I’m still somewhat in disbelief. I’ll be honest there were many days, weeks, and months when I never thought the novel would ever be completed despite my always optomistic behavior of “I will get to the end no matter what!”
I’ll give you two guesses to see if you know the answer to this question… what is a writer’s worst enemy?
Well, I suppose it could be all sorts of things like not having enough time to write, a writing muse who decides to take an extended vacation, or here’s a goodie… the computer is broken and every pencil, pen, and blank piece of paper has mysteriously disappeared. Lol… okay so maybe that last one was a bit of a stretch (or maybe not — but I’m pleading the fifth on that one).
This year I decided not to do NaNoWriMo despite my success at doing the challenge the last four years. Mostly because my time schedule just wouldn’t allow for it. I resigned myself to “hopefully” completing rewrites/edits for two chapters of my current novel in progress, and I figured that would be a stretch.
I got four chapters done.
Freaking awesome. I know. Sure it may not be much, but I doubled my best case scenario expectations. And it feels good. It feels real good. How did I do it? How was I able to go from my recent writing norm of completing maybe one chapter a month to four? And still not skimp on my other “paying” work that needed to be done. Well, I changed things up a bit.
Well, I just finished probably one of the most intense writing sessions ever since the writing bug bit me a little over 6 years ago. I can hardly believe it, but I managed a whopping 45,000 words in one week on a new novel idea. Yep, 45,000 in ONE week. The most I ever wrote in a stretch was 50,000, which was over a full month for the NaNoWriMo in 2010, so for me this is HUGE deal.
I’ve been sitting on this story idea since Janurary of this year. I didn’t write on it, because I didn’t feel like I had a story worth pursuing, but over the last few months the idea just kept building and growing until one night I picked up the computer and wrote two chapters without breaking a sweat. The next day I wrote three chapters and the day after that five, and so on. I just couldn’t stop writing. The ideas kept coming and my fingers kept typing (and I’m pretty certain my keyboard was smoking there for awhile). For my efforts, I ended up with the first seventeen chapters and other snippet scenes to my new book idea.
This marathon of writing didn’t come without a price. Unfortunately that meant I spent time on my writing that should have gone to other things like my four year old son. Now I’m paying the price with outright rebellion and lots of tantrums from my little guy. He wants his mommy time back. So whether I like it or not, my marathon has come to an end. I’m not entirely sure if it’s from the guilt of ignoring my boy, or that I’m just burned out from all the writing, but even still it was a beautiful thing to be in the zone like that.
I know that inspiration like that doesn’t come around very often (I’m the Queen of erratic writing), or maybe I should say that I unconsciously stunt that sort of inspiration because I can’t afford the time with being a full time mom, but I hope that I can one day ride that high again, because for a writer it doesn’t get much better than that.
Oh, and as for my new story idea…
Think Game of Thrones meets Star Wars and that’s all I’m going to say- for now. 😉