A while back, I did a post about writing fast. And I've been thinking about that here recently as I'm set to have three books published here in 2024. Ah, sometimes writing can be so easy, a story just flows right out.
Take for instance, this latest thing I’m working on. A novel I started around 2015.
And that’s just the date on the completed document. It could have
So, fast? Nope. Not this time. That was ten years ago. What would possess anyone to do such a thing, to keep pounding away at a book for ten years?
Well, that's writing. Or insanity. But really, what’s the difference?
Okay, in all honesty, I haven’t exactly been plugging away at this thing for ten straight years. It went like this: I was scrolling through old emails one day and I came across the title and thought. Oh man, I forgot all about that story.
And sometimes that's all it takes. A challenge. An idea. A spark. So I opened the document, and I cringed. It was...bad.
The story stuck with me. The main characters. I had some
notes from some poor, poor soul who’d beta read this nonsense, lots of notes. Notes I must have
set aside under the way-too-much-work folder.
But what about now? Years removed from this thing, I was ready to tackle it with fresh eyes. After all, I’ve
learned a few things over the years, why not dust this thing off and see what we can do.
And so I got busy. I rolled up the sleeves and went to work. Nothing was spared. I cut, I slashed, I created a whole new document titled SCRAPS. I wondered, somewhere in the back of my mind, if outliners really do have it right. Then I threw that thought in the SCRAPS folder.
Outlines are for suckers. I'm kidding. Sort of. I mean, it's not for me but I hear good things.
For months I went to work. I had a foundation, characters, setting, a plot of sorts, and I went
crazy with the rest. The more outlandish, the better. I added explosions, kept the guns, knives, muggings, and the wild backwoods adventures, but now with crooked cops, a rabid bride to be, and a lunatic meth head. Oh, and there was a marriage that needed
When the dust settled, I had a far better manuscript. Something to be proud of. I quickly handed it off to my favorite beta reader to see what she thought. Because that's me, a retriever with a manuscript, tale wagging and head cocked, ready to run.
In those few days that followed, I imagined a big five bidding war,
agents fighting over me, the movie rights, all things I hadn’t let myself
consider in a long, long time.
Then my beta got back to me. This was it.
It started a little slow, but…
What? Did I read that right?
Dashed went my dreams. The agents laughed at me. But how? I added explosions!
I'm kidding. Mostly. There ARE some explosions. But now it’s back to the drawing board. I need to the beginning right. And that’s okay. I have time. I have other books to work on. I can always come back to this one. Right. Again. And again. And again. And...
Writing is crazy like that. I once wrote a book in two months flat. It was a sequel, so the characters were there, same for backstory and location. Still, two months. In hindsight, I think fairy dust was flying off my fingers as I typed.
And yet, after ten years I can’t crack the code to my adult book. My love and marriage book. I feel like Stephen King wrote a book about this sort of thing...
I probably shouldn’t tell my wife.