The first draft of a first novel is coming to an end. It’s not the first novel where I’ve done up a first draft, but it’s the first where I am committed to seeing it through to completion.
I have finished other drafts before, some only partially completed, and some that sputtered and died early. I’m committed for this one because I set my mind to see it all the way through. Does that mean the other novel attempts were pointless and a waste of my time? No.
Learning the novel writing process takes quite a bit of time. It requires patience. It takes time to understand what approach works for yourself as a writer. Shit, I’m talking like an expert and yet I’m still not even sure what exactly that approach is, or how it will turn out in the end.
The writing process is crude, more crude than anyone who has never done it thinks. Whenever I hear nonsense about inspiration or muses I either laugh or grind my teeth. Those are mostly lies. I say mostly because there is a point when you get rolling when the ideas start flowing. Hemmingway called this the “juice,” and this is more accurate. Sometimes you also get an idea that kicks around in your head and you feel the need to put pen to paper. This does happen, and it’s a useful starting point for a story, but it dies quickly. Unless you’re willing to bite down on the idea and not let go, that story will never get written, because without fail, that tingly feeling fades away.
That’s why Stephen King’s On Writing remains one of the best writing books out there. It’s no nonsense. King speaks about the crudeness–the editing, the rewriting, the killing of babies.
Today I’ll be finished draft one, but there is no reason to celebrate just yet. This is just digging in. It will be a struggle, but I’m determined to see this one through to final draft.