Friday, April 27, 2012

From the Writing Post (2)

It's me, with the writer hat on, to talk about 'wasted projects.'

The manuscript lovingly dubbed SlackerBoy is not the first book I wrote. In terms of full length actually finished books, it was the third. Which, really, isn't too bad. I've heard plenty of writers with five, ten, fifteen books before they get a 'winner' that lands them an agent and sells.

But when you step back, that seems like so much time, and so much, well, waste. I've fallen into that trap, of feeling like I wasted my time, my energy, my effort writing these books that were headed nowhere. Fact: The first book I finished, I then did a full rewrite on to make the main character younger. Then I did about six more rounds of revisions, with lots of changes and rewrites along the way. It was my first book, the first real proof I had that this passion in me could actually go somewhere.

Then I shelved the project, one revision away from querying. By then, I had the first draft of SlackerBoy done. I had written another book in between. I knew more about the industry. And that first one, AddictBoy? Maybe it could have gone somewhere, but my gut was starting to tell me it wouldn't. Not to mention, my raw version of SlackerBoy was, to me, better than this nearly finished one of AddictBoy. And that wasn't a good sign, and that is the biggest reason I put it away.

Except it hurt. Despite knowing the decision was for the best, I ached. I shed a few tears. I was partly mad at myself for spending so much time on this book that wasn't good enough, and frustrated that the road to publication would be drawn out even more.

Once that sting wore off, though, and I let myself think of it all again, I don't regret it. Why? I learned SO much writing that first book. Getting the critiques, not just from friends but from authors. Yes, I spent money on that book - bought a few crits from charity auctions. And maybe the feedback specific to that book went nowhere, but in all that, I learned how to revise. I learned how to streamline. I learned how to pack a punch in fewer words.

Writing that book, revising that book, pushed me so far to where I am now. Though the book I wrote in between AddictBoy and SlackerBoy (lovingly dubbed LoverBoy... do we see a trend?) didn't get as much attention, and is on the back burner for different reasons, I can still see how much my writing improved just from AddictBoy to it. The mistakes I made with AddictBoy weren't present as much in that one, and in truth, by the time I got to SlackerBoy, they were even fewer. Even the little things, that you don't necessarily think about, still show up to readers. I've learned to not do those things, to leave it out of my writing, to identify it on my own so others don't have to, and can use their time to point other things out to me.

This has nothing to do with my post.
It just makes me laugh.
 So all in all? AddictBoy was far from a wasted project. He was more than that first pancake, the one you burn just to get to the good stuff. He was my biggest learning tool, and I will always love that book in part just for that (and okay, I really did just love that book). Will I ever do something with AddictBoy? Maybe. It would be another rewrite, maybe even a somewhat different story from a different character's perspective instead. The options are there, some of them even send that thrill through me that comes with any Shiny New Idea.

Which is why, even when it hurts, even when it's devastating, even when it makes you feel like maybe this is all just one big pipedream and you're wasting your time... you aren't. It's not just a persistence is key thing... it's a learning and growing thing. Take out your first book, and tell me honestly if you haven't improved immensely sense. And with each new manuscript, even if it just goes into the trunk, tell me if you didn't learn something new, improve somehow. Ultimately, there are no wasted projects, even if you have to look a little harder to see it.


  1. This is such a true post. You can't be afraid to throw out something! Whenever I think of throwing away manuscripts, I always think of Jodi Meadows, who wrote Incarnate. Incarnate was her 17th finished novel. I thought that was crazy! And then, she totally through out her draft for Incarnate #3 multiple times, and rewrote it. I don't think I could have the guts to throw out a draft so many times, but I'm sure it helped learn so much more.

    Good luck to you! I'm really loving these writing posts of yours. =)

    -Aneeqah @ My Not So Real Life

  2. I love this post! It’s honest and I love that.

    When I look back at my writing ten years ago, I am stunned at how...erm...bad it is! I can tell by your blog posts that you are better off than I was back then--and your persistence and attention to improvement and quality writing is going to pay off. Someday, this post (or something similar) will make a great speech for you as a pubbed author.