As I continue to plug away at edit number ten of my first novel I find that it's once again taking much longer than I'd hoped it would take. I began in December, 2015 and had planned to have it finished by the end of March. Well, I've outlined 43 chapters and I'm currently on chapter 10. So, yeah. That didn't happen. My new goal is to finish by the end of the year, but I have no idea if that's actually going to happen.
The problem is, I'm too hard on myself. I'm always saying, "I wish it wouldn't take so long." And I'm always asking, "Do other people take this long?" I find myself thinking back to when I first started and thinking of all the things I could've done to learn faster, like read more writing books. Part of the reason I didn't do this was because it would've gotten in the way of the actual writing. Yeah, I've since seen the flaw in that kind of thinking. And then there was that horrible period when I stopped reading fiction because I thought writers weren't allowed to read because of accidental plagiarism. Those were dark, dark days.
So as I'm brooding (yeah, women can brood too, it's not just for attractive male leads in YA novels), thinking I'll never, ever finish and worrying that my friends and family are all thinking, "She's rewriting it AGAIN?" I've decided it's time for a reversal in thinking. The other day I suddenly realized that I've been writing seriously for six years. Six years isn't actually all that long. At first it seemed like a really long time, but when I really think about it, it isn't. I (like many new writers, I imagine) had no idea what writing a novel actually involved. I thought I could have it completely finished in about 3-4 months, published in another 3-4, the movie would be out in another couple, and then I could quit my job. Yeah, that's kind of embarrassing now. But, like every new writer, I learned the harsh reality and found myself with a choice to make. I chose to continue. (The harsh realities are for another post.)
Instead of going, "Wow I'm never going to get done" I'm going to look at what I have accomplished in these wonderful six years of writing . My 9ish edits have come quite a long way. This new rewrite is not just me being a perfectionist. Real, necessary changes are happening, and I'm glad that I've had this epiphany. I'm very excited to get to the finished product. I have learned a lot from those 9 drafts. I now have a really polished draft and a detailed outline (I swear it really exists) to work from. I have rough drafts of two other novels that have beginnings, middles, and ends (never overlook the importance of a beginning, middle, and an end.) I have a huge collection of poetry, a few short stories, and a blog that I've kept going for nearly a year. I have a collection of rejection letters from agents, publishers, and magazines. Yes, this is an accomplishment. I put myself out there, got my feet wet, and learned about the publishing world. I know more about the industry and have learned to accept (to the extent that one can) rejection. I've also met lots of other awesome writers and improved my own critiquing skills, which helps improve writing. So, positives.
I'm not saying I'm always going to be positive. I will always wish things could go faster. I'll probably still get down on myself from time to time. I think we all have these moments, but I'm going to try and remind myself that six years is not a very long time. Plus, now I have a nice little list of my accomplishments. So, make your own list. Think of what you've done and be proud of it. All we can do is move forward, so rather than dwell on what we haven't accomplished or what we wish we'd done differently, let's congratulate ourselves for our accomplishments!