It says something about the start of 2018 that I am only just getting around to this post. Blogging has once again dropped down my list of priorities, as I navigate life with 4 kids and settle my boys into a new kinder year. But I am keen to blog, and I thought the best way to start the year was to give you a picture of how my writing life has been tracking.
2016 ended with the excitement of knowing that I had actually finished something. A full first draft of “The Librex”; my first novel. There were no such exciting milestone’s last year. Yet 2017 was probably one of the most significant years in my writing life. I decided to take a little break from my work-in-progress (WIP) to work on other projects. I though it would be prudent to do some more formal learning, so I enrolled in an on-line Fantasy writing course.
The lessons that I learnt last year will be crucial tools in the years to come.
One of those lessons was the power of distance.
One of the most repeated suggestions for editing a first draft is that you need to have a break from it to get some perspective. That distance can help you to see it in a realistic light. But having just finished my first ever novel draft I was itching to work on it, to make it better, to bring it closer to the stage where I might actually be able to get it published. But I made myself promise to leave it alone for three months, while my sister and husband read through it and gave me their feedback.
That three months became six months because my husband was still finishing off his feedback.
Then six months became almost a year because editing is soul-crushing and writing from scratch is much more fun.
But as 2018 begins, I am beginning to edit. And I am amazed at how helpful a bit of distance has been in how I edit my novel. I am willing to scrap. I am willing to change. I have the gained the ability to read my work almost as if it wasn’t me who wrote it.
A year ago, changing the name of a character seemed impossible because I-love-that-name-I-picked-it-because-of-XYZ-He-Just-Couldn’t-Be-Called-Anything-Else. Now I am willing to cut characters, scenes and events, because I am more committed to what the book can be, than to what I originally wrote.
Though changing the name of that character is still heart-breaking!
I may not always have the time or opportunity to get a years break from a writing project. But I’ve found a little distance is a great gift to the editing process.