Hubby asked me the other night if, once I sold a book, I could write two or three a year like Other Writers. Not sure which Other Writers he meant, but I was kind of surprised at the question. I don’t think he was trying to insult me, but he knows how long I’ve been working on this particular book. And yeah, it’s ridiculous how much time I’ve spent rewriting the d*mn thing. So I understand his concern.
The answer, I told him, is yes. And I said it without hesitation because I know it’s true. Yes, I am capable of writing fast. And writing well, I believe, while doing it. So why the wheel spinning this time? Because for the longest time it was just me and WIP. No critique partner, no beta reader, no editor or agent to tell me the idea wasn’t viable the way I’d written it. Me, writing like a maniac, then stepping back and saying, “Uhhhhhh, hmm….”
It’s taken me time to figure out what works and what doesn’t. There’s a lot that goes into a manuscript, much more than pretty sentences that read perfectly. I’ve read a lot of beautiful contest entries that go nowhere. Going nowhere is the greatest sin committed by the unpublished writer, I think. Because the published writer has an editor saying, “Hey, that lovely scene where your heroine drives to work thinking about how she got to this place in her life and how she’ll never find love and how her last boyfriend was a jerk? It’s got to go because it’s not the real beginning of the story. The story starts on page 15 when the secret agent bursts into her office.”
My process has improved with the right critique partner. Tanya keeps me on track. She’s the one who told me my heroine was doing a lot of reacting and not a lot of acting. And then, when I asked, she told me how to fix it. She gave me suggestions that made sense. I didn’t use any of them, because I rewrote everything, but I used the gist, the core, of what she told me. My heroine doesn’t react anymore. She’s not passive, and she doesn’t let the hero take control. I think Tanya will be proud when I send her those pages again. 🙂
Yes, I’ve rewritten this same book 3 times now. I mean throwing out hundreds of pages and rewriting. I have a discarded scenes file that’s longer than the book is. Scary, huh? But I believe this is right. I believe I’m making the right choices this time. I believe the final product will be good. This time is the last time. This version goes out the door. I’ll take editorial suggestions gratefully, in full knowledge that I CAN fix what needs to be fixed. But this is the final rewrite on my own. The next time is for an editor.
And I haven’t completely been spinning my wheels. I’ve written and submitted two entries to the Harlequin contest, and I’m working on a Red Sage novella. I also have the second book in my special ops series planned and the first pages written. With every word, I get better. Every word, whether discarded or polished to a shine, propels me forward and makes me a better writer.
Yeah, honey, I can write more than one book a year. I’m getting faster and better all the time. My choices are better. My instincts sharpen with usage. My wheels have found purchase in the muck. I’m moving forward.
Any lessons you’ve learned lately? Can you write more than one book a year? How many rewrites are enough for you?