I haven't written a FIRST book since 2005. That's when I finished the first draft of Glimpse - it was 30K, a family saga, and nowhere near being an actual novel. I didn't know that, though - my background is in monologue and play writing -I was just stoked I'd told the story I'd set out to tell.
Fast forward to now, almost exactly seven years later, and I'm trying like hell to finish Found, another novel set in the Zellie Wells world. (I've written other firsts in between, but nothing novel length.)
I can't shake the feeling that all the experience I've gained in the last seven years, all the time I've put into becoming a full-fledged AUTHOR, is keeping me from finishing Found.
Sometimes it sucks to know too much. To be aware of all the mistakes you're making while you're making them and not be able to stop yourself from correcting them right then and there.
Found is a cool, interesting story that I want to write - only I can't get away from comparing it to Glimpse and trying to not do all the things I did wrong with that book all over again.
I thought if I approached the writing of Found in a completely different way - if I made a more detailed outline than I ever had before, if I used a beat sheet, if I set a timer and wrote without self-editing - that I could get over myself.
Instead, I've lost myself. There's not as much of me in Found as there is in Glimpse.
Glimpse has around one thousand written reviews across all platforms, with an average of 4 stars. It came out in 2010. When I read my reviews on Amazon (I stopped reading them everywhere else) I pay most attention to the 3 star, middle-of-the-road ones.
From these I've learned that my pacing isn't great, my use of slang is annoying, and that I don't describe things as fully as readers would like. And everyone hates Zellie's mom. :)
So, I thought that by working on making these things better, in addition to having other books under my belt and knowing what I was doing this time around, that I could bust Found out in two months.
My first self-imposed deadline was August. Then October...November...now it's hopefullybyChristmasfirstweekofJanuaryatthelatest.
Some of my heel-dragging stems from life stuff - I didn't have any kids in 2005, my dad had a heart attack and my parents who usually help me out a ton now need my help ( which I'm more than happy to give!), I signed my kids up for way too many activities, and I've committed to working out at least four times a week.
Therefore, when I get a chance to sit down and write, keeping in mind all of my new rules, following my beat sheet, trying not to self-edit...it's about as fun as getting a colonoscopy.
I read this post by my friend, and probably yours, Megg Jensen and it did make me feel a little better.
What I'd like to hear from you all is: How do you get better technically without losing the joy?
I'm stumped. I'm bummed. And I'd really like to have a new book out in time for all those new e-readers! (Psst. I'm at 40K and have an editor that will read it anytime, so all is not lost.)
Even though she can't finish her latest novel, Stacey Wallace Benefiel can push press 55 lbs. forty-eight times. So, there's that.