Almost All Good Writing Begins With Terrible First Efforts. You Need to Start Somewhere.

~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

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Today is August FIRST. That means, for a whole month I put pen to paper in an event called Camp NaNoWriMo. I’ve been talking about this a lot recently, and finally — FINALLY the month is over. I wrote as much as I could following a very busy work schedule and ended the month with 40,000 words written. And hey, my goal was 80,000 words which was a little ambitious — but to write literally half of my rough draft in a month. A MONTH. And I never believed I could ever do it.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

I compiled my book out of Scrivener for the first time last night — a whopping 158 pages so far in manuscript format for a PDF file. I was blown away. I have never ever written so much for this book before, despite having started it years ago. And to think all it took was a push in the right direction? A silly word count goal that was more arbitrary than anything else? I have found out recently that if I really set my mind to something, I can actually accomplish great things. I spent a lot of time thinking otherwise. I spent a lot of time thinking every single thing I wrote was the worst. That I was starting out wrong, or that my characters weren’t fully developed. That I had no idea what I was doing… Yet, what I wasn’t realizing is that the first draft isn’t about all that. Not at all. It’s about writing. Writing the shitty first draft, that is. I had to get past the fear that what I was putting on paper wasn’t good enough. I had to remember that there was time for editing later. LATER. Each time I sat down to write, even up until now, I had to remind myself that there would time later for revision. Keep going. I still have to keep going.

“Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

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I have a huge list of ideas scattered across several notebooks towards the next phase of writing. The first phase? Well, finishing the book. The second? Starting revision. Besides that, I have about six other books I could write set in the same universe. Are they sequels? Nope. Prequels? Not exactly. Are we never going to hear about these characters ever again? Wrong! You will. Maybe at different phases of their life. Siren Song — as my book is tentatively titled for now — is neither standalone nor part of a series. I want the books to stand by themselves and yet have factors that link them together. So that no matter which book is on the shelf in your local bookstore, my readers can enjoy them in any order. Fans of the first book will get tiny tidbits that only they will understand, but a reader who comes to the series new would still get (hopefully) a great and clear reading experience without having read Siren Song first. That’s my hope. I have a long, long road to go before my book (or books, so it seems) are even near ready to be looked at. But I’m in this for the long haul.

“Because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, How alive am I willing to be?” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Beyond revision, I’ve been seriously considering one of my dreams — to write something worthy of submitting to the Writers of the Future contest. One of my favorite living writers, Patrick Rothfuss, was a winner of said contest and ended up publishing the first two books of the Kingkiller Chronicle. You never know what will happen. If I was able to make myself write 40,000 words in one month, imagine what I can do with a year. Imagine working and working my rough draft until it shines in a pile of entries in a contest so many amazing writers enter every year? One of my life goals is yes, to traditionally publish my novel. I know it sounds impossible. But if you just keep writing, no matter what is going on around you in your life, you never know what you can accomplish. It’s more about saying, “This will happen,” instead of “I hope this happens,” and doing everything in your power to meet your goal. I am a writer. So I’m gonna write. I’ve already come this far.

“”So why does our writing matter, again?” they ask. Because of the spirit, I say. Because of the heart.” ~ Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

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2 thoughts on “Almost All Good Writing Begins With Terrible First Efforts. You Need to Start Somewhere.

  1. Well…it seems to me that you have thought about this for quite some time! I am, as always, ever so proud of you and your accomplishments. 😊 Just don’t ever give up, and your talent will take you far. The sky is truly the limit! 💜

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