Yesterday I mused about the pure joy I felt writing when I was a kid, and how I long to return to that innocence.
See, ten year-old me was a writer. I wrote stories all the time, and it certainly never dawned on me that I might not get a novel published one day.
Through the years I wrote several novels. They ended up getting deservedly trashed. But they were great practice.
Then, I managed to get some short stories professionally published. Happy Snoopy Dance time. But, in my heart of hearts, I always knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until there was a novel sitting on a shelf of a bookstore with my name on it. So, again I sat down to pen a novel. This time, as an adult.
Through the years I gained much needed technical knowledge. Just as a ballerina has to practice years and years at the barre for those leaps and pirouettes on stage- it takes years for the writer to gain expertise on the craft of writing: grammar, style, voice, sentence and paragraph structure, balancing prose and dialogue, description, handling dialogue tags, plotting a smooth narrative. It’s a never ending learning process.
The downside is one becomes too focused on the technical aspect. (for instance, I’m cringing now because I used “I” 4x in the first sentence of this post. Argh!!!! And it’s my own frigging blog. I really, really want to fix it, but for the sake of this post, it’s going to remain no matter how much it hurts)
And, like many wannabe authors, I’ve become too paranoid. The book industry is brutal. There is no denying, no sugarcoating it. Agents often state they only ask to see roughly 5% of partial submissions from the hundreds of query letters they receive each month. So, let’s say you wrote a clear, intriguing query and you are one of the 5% asked to send in the first 3 chapters of your novel. Great! But, agents then admit they often put down a manuscript if they are not grabbed by the first page. Often times, the first paragraph.
Is it any wonder we go into a tizzy? Worrying about whether our word count is too short or long, should we use “said” because it’s invisible or does it get boring? Will the agent toss my work because I still doublespace after periods? Can I use adverbs? How can adverbs indicate weak writing when some of the greatest writers in history used them? A lot. Am I showing enough? Telling too much? I’ve heard agents hate exclamation points. I have one on page 121. If they’ve liked my novel til that point- will they toss it? I write better in first person but I hear many agents prefer third. What should I do???? I write in third. I heard a rumor first is becoming more popular. On and on it goes…
Writing boards are filled with frantic writers posting such questions.
Many of these questions are valid and necessary while editing. However, they wreck havoc on creating the story. And they certainly kill the joy of it all.
So, I have a plan to kill the evil inner-editor while I finish my second draft.
Now, I was going to make myself some rules. Like, “no editing until draft done”, “no stopping to pick up dictionary or thesaurus”. But then I remembered kids don’t give themselves rules. Perish the thought!
An author once said, “Write the novel you want to read”.
So, I’m going to write like I did when I was a kid- in other words, write whatever the frell I want. Not second guess myself. Not analyze anything. Not picture future beta-readers critiquing.
Just curl myself up and have fun.
Yup. I’m going to make it that simple.