Ninety percent of writing consists of rewriting. That is how a writer spends most of his/her time. That means that my work time in writing is usually about going over old ground, trying to make it better. The trick is to know when to stop. That’s where I run into trouble.
I also have trouble with the length of my stories. They are often too long to be short stories and too short to be novels. That’s the main reason my work is not published. I know that my novels are not publishable, although I really think that I might have a shot with my current novel. I have length going for me, I am adding in details, not padding. I’m learning how to do that. I painted the story with broad strokes during NaNoWriMo last November, now I am going back and adding the details that should help make the story come alive. That’s the goal, make the story come alive and people will like reading it. Ok, some people will like reading it, not everyone is going to like your stories. Accept that and move on. Personally, I do not like Stephen King’s novels. Does that mean he’s a bad writer? No. I don’t care for the horror genre and that is no reflection on his skill as a writer.
I am not Stephen King. I don’t have a following of readers. That may happen, but I need to pay my dues and learn my craft first. He did that and was serious about learning the craft. That’s how he got published and is rich and famous and I am not. I’m serious now about learning the craft and maybe getting an agent, if not published, this year. This year I will get an agent, at least. I would love to have a publishing contract, but I know that I have to take baby steps. I think my current work will win me an agent and it might even be my first published novel. It may be my only published novel. Either way, I will get it published. I am determined.
Revising a work requires patience and a self-criticism that borders on cruelty. We are our own worst critics. I don’t know who said that first, but it is true. We are much harder on ourselves than we are on others or others are on us. In my case, I almost paralyze my writing to which is not good. It prevented me from doing anything with my writing in the past. I have to work past that to make it to an agent and thus to a publisher.
Editing is not fun. Whether you do it yourself or have someone else do it for you, it is not fun. It can even be painful. You have to do it or your work will not stand. Hemingway said, "The first draft of anything is shit." No one writes a perfect first draft. Once you accept that your story needs work, you can move on to the next stage in writing, the revising. How much depends on what you want to do, but I warn you, there is the danger of over revising your work. That’s the condition where you keep revising and never do anything else. There will come a time when you know you can’t do any more and that’s when you find yourself merely exchanging synonyms. That’s when you hand off to your agent or editor, who will read your work and tell you what needs fixing. Sometimes you are just too close to your work to see the problems.
Am I an expert on this? No. I’m only sharing what I am learning. That’s all I can do. The only advice I can give is from one unpublished writer to another and that is write your first draft without paying attention to the nitpicking stuff. Pick the nits in the revision stage. Otherwise, you will never get anything written.
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