It’s that time of the month again everyone! For those of you who do not know I am a part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) where the first of every Wednesday it is the official day where writers can post on their blogs things related to writing. The group was created by Alex Cavanaugh and his amazing co-hosts PJ Colando, Diane Burton, Louise – Fundy Blue, Natalie Aguirre, and Jacqui Murry.
Those who are a part of ISWG are here to share their experiences and encourage fellow writers. We can express ourselves freely without doubt or concern about appearing foolish because there are those who have been in our situation beforehand. There are many writers who can offer assistance and guidance to questioning, struggling, or writers who are stuck on a particular block.
The question for the month is this: what is one thing about your writing career you regret the most, and were you able to overcome it?
Since I haven’t made this into a career, I haven’t even written one book nor gotten something published yet, I am going to discuss something else: audience of one.
Whenever I am writing something, whether it will be posted somewhere on the internet or shared with friends, I always think about this, “Am I satisfied with it? Is this for me or is this for other people?”
Rarely I am satisfied with what I write given that the vision I have does not match, or there is a stark tonal change. See The Swan Fairy Tale discussion where I am changing it to The Forsaken Tale. For that draft, the title and the work itself didn’t match whatsoever the theme I was trying to convey. I began working on The Swan Fairy Tale back in 2016. I originally wrote 32,381 words in the initial draft. I was supposed to let it rest a month at most because I was emotionally drained from it. One month turned to two turned to years. I tried to write it. I found that I couldn’t.
I didn’t table it, while it was dusty I thought of it on occasion. I came back to it in a writing class. I wanted to reexamine the relationship between three characters– Kellina, Felix, and Arthur–and I loved writing scenes with either all three of them in there or just two. I wrote in Felix and Arthur’s point of view during that time for four short pieces, each less than two thousand words. It made me want to go back and read what I wrote.
I was tempted to completely edit the whole thing and then I got an important piece of advice: never edit the document you write, instead open a new document and write it out from beginning to end. The initial draft, not the first because that is what I am working on, was on the opposite end of the spectrum of what I wanted. It was melodramatic, depressive, and quite frankly, Kellina was mean to the point I wondered why she would have two best friends and a few acquaintances with how she acts. Why would her cousin help her? Why did I drop a plot point of her trying to connect with someone, but didn’t expand on it? Why was it only one scene that seemed to not go anywhere, that should have been showing how she talks with her friend? That conversation was seeped with deceit on her end, and it was disingenuous. I can’t believe what I was thinking at that time and I am glad I put that to rest.
There were good moments that I pulled, and I wish I could keep a scene exactly in the first draft instead of something adjacent to it. However, to keep it would mean I would have to analyze it further in depth instead of writing a outline for the first draft. Then I tweaked the outline, and I did it again as I wrote scenes that came out organically. I will refer to the first outline again once the draft is complete, witnessing the various changes that I underwent through the creation of The Forsaken Tale even if it temps me in my folder. Fun fact, it’s labeled “SF Outline” and I made a new folder to put the document in there that’s labeled “Trashed Docs.”
I did not know what to name the initial concept, something apt that described what Kellina was. However, while that is what she is, it isn’t who she, someone who is forsaken from a community she didn’t want to be a part of. Not to mention, if I was to think about the next novel, I only have a rough outline in bullet points for the manuscript, the first title would be apposite. The first in the series would be a coming-of-age modern fantasy novel that is her itinerary of self-discovery, realizing it isn’t a “me vs the universe” situation, and empathy toward those she hates. The second in the series would be traditionally more of a fantasy world as she has to navigate it from the mundane, where a majority of scenes take place in The Forsaken Tale as it is transitioning to this world.
While I love reading stories about the protagonist discovering a hidden world, I wanted to write something that was slightly different, and that’s where The Forsaken Tale concept came from. I wanted to write a protagonist foil of the would-be-protagonist in that novel that would also be considered a minor character because the would-be-protagonist found their new official rival that the whole audience is rooting against and is the fan favorite. That is a run-on sentence but I cannot conceive of a more apt description than that.
This series is a gift to me from me. I was not satisfied by the initial draft because it did not fit this vision. I am fine with sharing this with my friends and some of my family members.
Most importantly, I write for myself. I create because I cannot find something existing in the world that is similar to what I want. I cannot presume that others do not want to read a concept like this because there are billions of people out in the world. Even if I don’t make a lot of money from The Forsaken Tale I will know that my novel satisfied the imagination of whoever read it. Maybe it inspires them to write for themselves or to actively search for similar material. Whose to say it isn’t already out there? I have a backlog on my bookshelf that I am dying to read and it grows by the month
To summerize: I need to be satisfied with what I write, and it is for my eyes first and foremost. I know that the current chapter I am writing isn’t the best, I am going to power through it. I do not want this to end up like the initial draft. I am reaching the end, nearing the word count of a what a novel is considered. This time, I am telling a story closer to what I have I have, even if there are some inconsistencies.
That’s what editing is for 🙂