Published authors and agents often say that no book is a “wasted” book even if it doesn’t get published. Every book teaches you something. Every book makes you a better writer. I truly believe this, though it is very easy to kick yourself when a book doesn’t get you an agent or doesn’t sell.
In the interest of reminding myself that every book adds some value to my career, here’s a list of things I’ve learned while writing (and rewriting) my WIP, TSS:
I can write a lot more words in a day than I thought I could
While writing my first book, I’d pat myself on the back for 500 words. With my second, it was 1,000. With the first draft of TSS, 1,200. During this rewrite, I’ve learned to crank out 1,500, 1,800, hell even 2,000+ words with only minimal pain. I’m not saying this is easy for me, because pretty much no part of writing is easy. But what I once considered damn near impossible is now not just doable, but expected. Today I went “light” and only wrote 1,200 words, and I feel guilty about it. I don’t feel exhausted by 1,200 anymore. It takes more than that to feel the fatigue now, though that might only be because I know this story so well. I might have a lower output once I start a new book. We’ll see.
How to write two first person POVs that sound different
I was so intimidated by the dual first person POV that I didn’t attempt it–didn’t even consider it–in my first two drafts of TSS even though it is better for the story. It was a rough start on this draft as I hadn’t yet found the male character’s voice, but the deeper into the book I got, the easier it was to fall into his voice and figure out how the characters sounded different. I’m sure there’s room for improvement, but I think I’ve got a good base to build upon.
Rewriting an entire book is not as painful as it sounds
When I had the soul-crushing epiphany back in early April that I needed to majorly overhaul my plot, I had a daunting task ahead of me. When I decided to add a POV, it became more daunting. Comically so, as my CP Julie Israel can attest to (she got many a delirious email from me). I wanted to laugh/cry/eat a jar of Nutella when I checked my word count in early May and saw 16,600. Down from 81,800. Hahahahaha. It still makes me laugh. But now my word count is 84,500 and climbing, and I see that all the extra effort was worth it. I haven’t finished this draft, so I haven’t read the new version through yet, but it feels better. The [mostly inaccessible] part of my brain that has a grasp on the whole story knows that THIS is the book I wanted to write all along. It just took some time to get here.
Good ideas are worth fighting for
This one’s closely related to that previous one. I’ve had the kernel of the idea that has become TSS for a long time. Over three years now. If I queried a crappy version of it just because I was desperate to be done, I’d have regretted it forever. So when I say good ideas are worth fighting for, I mean worth fighting myself for. Fighting the lazy part of me that wants to be done. Fighting the mopey part of me that tries to convince me no version will be good enough anyway. Fighting the jealous part of me that wants to write as fast as the speediest authors. For me, this was a story worth telling, and I’m going to tell it as well as I can, damnit.
Writing takes as long as it takes
Writing a polished book every 12 months is a nice idea. A nice idea that I need to crush with a vengeful hammer. Look, I started the [first] first draft of this thing last July before rethinking it in August and starting over in September. So yeah, I’ve been working on it a year. And I’ve been tempted to rush through it so I can call myself a book-a-year writer, but I’d rather be a good-book-every-18-months writer than a shitty-book-a-year writer. (Not that some authors don’t write awesome books in a year or less. I’m just not one of them.) I thought I’d be querying in June, then I thought September, and now I’m thinking it really doesn’t matter. I’ll query when it’s ready. It’ll be ready when it’s done. It’ll be done…someday.
Now I’m off to enjoy the weekend and not think about my book for 2.5 glorious days. Happy 4th of July, and happy writing!