If there is anything I have learned over the past several years, it is that I am very good at rewriting things.
My current book (the not-so-well-loved, often-times-bemoaned novel Extinguish), is on it’s ninth draft, and second edit.
When I refer to drafts, I talk about major rewrites and overhauls. That doesn’t include all the little (and by little I mean the entire book) edits I did of each draft.
This time, I’ve decided to shift a pivotal event to a later point in the novel, and to also cut a central character. I still have to rewrite the new ending (I canned the old one in draft 8) which I’ve been avoiding for several months now. There’s about 50,000 words and who knows how many hours worth of work ahead of me. I’m tired. I want this novel to be finished. Yet I know these changes will be worth it. I know that sacrificing these things that I worked so hard on in previous drafts will ultimately make this a stronger novel.
Every draft has brought this book closer to a product I can be proud of. It’s not been the easiest project. Especially now when I am so often at war with it. Flicking to the open document on Scrivener makes me cringe. Scheduling in writing time to work on it fills me with dread. I feel a faint flicker of something like joy whenever I work out how to fix a plot point, but then when I realise all the extra work I will have to put into this novel in order to rework that section of the story, I want to cry under my bed.
Yet, after each draft, I get to the end and find that I am proud of pushing through. I tell my friends I’ve finished my novel, and I wander around in a daze of happiness that it is at last over.
This doesn’t always last. Particularly now, when my friends begin to ask, “haven’t you already finished that book?”
The answer is yes. Nine times, yes I have finished this book, but it isn’t there yet. Wherever there is. Sometimes I wonder why I keep at it. I have other ideas. I have an idea that is bursting to speak to me, to talk me through every weave of it’s tale, and yet I stubbornly persist with the old one.
I can’t cast it aside. Because casting it aside would mean that the last four years of work would be for nothing, and while there is still a long road to go, I just can’t give up. I’m so close I can smell the whiff of success on the air. It’s faint and almost undetectable, but it’s there. Trust me.
That’s what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me hanging onto this story, desperately encouraging it to keep moving towards the end-goal.
Maybe one day I will let it go. Maybe I’ll move on fully from it. For now I’ll juggle my two projects and see where it leads me. The one that wants to speak to me, and the one that wants to fight me.
Writing is hard. Writing is full of hours of long work and toiling away on your lunch break or in the middle of the night or in the hour before you have to go to work.
It’s exhausting. It’s piecing things together and pulling them apart and piecing them back together again. It’s listening. It’s trying to be listened to.
But in amongst all that hard work (and sometimes sorrow and anger), is a lot of joy. I love my work. I love my characters. I’m tired of not quite getting it right, but I’m not tired of them. I want to do well by them, which is why I keep pushing at this.
My point in all this, dear reader, is that you should always follow your passion, even when it feels like your passion will lead you to insanity. Somewhere past that insanity is a blossoming light, ready to welcome you into a beautiful place.
I can feel that place getting closer-I’ve even been there a few times already. Just a foot in the door, so to speak, but I’m keen to go back. There’s something very fulfilling about following your passions, regardless of the frustrations and hard work. Or perhaps in spite of those frustrations.
So if you want to write, if you want to create, do so. But remember that it will be hard. There will be long dark moments of self-doubt and annoyance and frustration. You will have to learn to ignore the fear inside you, telling you you can’t do it, telling you it’s not worth it. But it is worth it. If you have the patience and determination to push through, it most definitely, most beautifully worth it.
The Jade Writer Girl.