storytelling,  writing

If You Need Me, I’ll Be in My Head

Hi there. Remember me?

I realize that it’s been a while, but just in case you’ve never heard this before, writing a book is a lot of work.

I had to dispel the illusion, just in case you happen to have also read Stephen King’s memoir, in which he makes a flippant comment that it should take 3 months to write a first draft, but that’s really not how it works. Or, at least, it’s not how it worked for me.

I am steadily moving forward with the first revision of my novel and each day’s work delights me with how much tighter my ideas are getting and how many things I can see now that I couldn’t when I was writing my first draft. I had hoped to be done by now with this revision, but life has a terrific way of interfering. But you keep putting one foot in front of the other and eventually, eventually you get there. Even when there is tortuously far away and you know you just have another revision in front of you again.

One step at a time, one chapter at a time. I steal minutes when I can to work on it. I carry around a printed copy of the 668 page first draft so that I can edit anywhere, even if it’s not handy to pull out of laptop. The weight reminds me of how much work there is left to do, even though I’ve put notes of encouragement at key points. 25%! 50%! Only 100 pages left!

There have been days when I wanted to set the entire manuscript on fire. And there have been days where the revision goes so smoothly that I feel like I’m cheating someone. And sometimes, editing is both of those things simultaneously.

Perhaps this is the journey. It is my first time down this road and I feel like I’m learning from every aspect of it. Perhaps what there is to learn is more than about just the writing.


  • ccyager

    Stephen King wrote a lot of stuff in his memoir that kind of freaked me out. But then, I had to remind myself that he’s not working at a fulltime job (at least not anymore), and his wife is his first reader so he’s not always in search of beta readers or a good editor. It sounds like your experience is fairly normal, Mae, for a first revision, although I’d suggest breaking up the pages you carry around into chapters, e.g. take 2 chapters at a time rather than the whole book. I’d be so afraid of losing it! That’s a lot of paper to print out again….:-) Good luck and keep us posted with your progress!

  • Marc Kuhn

    I did my 11th book this year and I am still attempting to learn how to do it right. And now, I’ve returned all the way back to my first one and I am undertaking a “2nd Edition”…I’m am not doing a lot of rewrite, but I am performing radical surgery on rearranging the chapters. Of course, almost every move comes back to bite me in the butt with some chaotic effect I didn’t think of….but it is what the process
    is all about….and remember too, Mae, King was pop’n and smoking’ a lot of stuff in his early years. Personally, I need to be clear-headed when I write…or at least have a bowl of ice cream nearby. Stay with it, you’ll be just fine my little dearie…and that goes for your little book too. Good to hear from you again in bloggsville.

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