Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Bummer of a Writing Day Turns Awesome

Lately I've been struggling with a revision. It's a story that, for whatever reason, I refuse to quit on, and so every other year for over a decade I've been rewriting it.

I've added characters. I've killed characters. I've changed settings and reworked plotlines. I've played around with the voice, the language, the target audience. This used to be a middle grade novel and now it's become young adult. I even changed the title three times. Sad fact: I love the title now, but I'm probably going to have to let it go because I noticed that there's a new YA novel out with the same title.

Darn it.

(just a few of the printed off versions)

I have a nice little writing process that I've figured out over the years, tricks I've learned and methods that seem to work. Every book I've written has been a little different in how it comes together. Thin Space, for all of the work involved (at least five rewrites over two years) was a relatively easy book to write.

This one, obviously, has not been easy. But I press on with it. At the core is a story and main characters and a world that I love, and those aspects have never changed. One of these days, one of these rewrites, I know it's going to click...

That day was not yesterday.

I stared at the computer screen most of the morning and into the afternoon, writing a sentence and then deleting it. There is a part of me that can deal with this kind of cruddy writing day, that thinks: "oh well. I'll figure it out, eventually." There is another part that screams in frustration, that doubts that I will ever get this book "right" (whatever that is), that doubts that I even CAN write anymore, hisses in my ears, "Thin Space was a fluke and who am I kidding? that book isn't even good, quit now blah blah blah."

That part was winning.

And then I had to shut down, at the height of this self-doubting/depressing internal rant, to go give a talk at my local high school. The librarians there and at the public library oversee a joint teen book club every month and they invited me to visit. I gave the school librarian, Laura Piazza, who has been a debut writer's dream by the way, a handful of advanced review copies of Thin Space last fall and she's been passing them around to students and teachers.

Talking to this group made me feel better immediately and reminded me what is at the other end of the sometimes excruciating process of writing a book: if you do keep plugging away, eventually, that finished story will one day make it into the hands of readers.

(I love this picture! First, because these ladies were all so cool and  enthusiastic about Thin Space, and second, because it looks like one of the book clubbers is Hermione Granger...) 


  1. We can't wait for the BIG DAY!! So very proud of you for not giving up and doing what you've always wanted to do - WRITE!! Love you - Aunt Lindley

  2. Oh BOY do I know that feeling that your book isn't any good and someday they'll figure it out. I've had it with every single book. I've learned to look on that feeling as a good thing--it means that I know there's always more work to do and no book is ever perfect.

    1. It seems like a constant back and forth--days when I feel what I'm working on is brilliant and awesome and days when I am sure it's the worst piece of writing ever created. I've started to think that both feelings are a necessary part of the process. You've got to think it's good or you wouldn't want to keep writing it. And you have to think it's crappy, or you wouldn't want to make it better, like you said!