One day, a long time ago, I was talking to my best friend about reading. Yes, I am that nerdy. I love reading and talking about reading and reading some more. Anyway, I was talking to her, and I confessed that I have skipped portions of books on occasion. Not large portions, mind you, just a paragraph or two. She told me she never did that because she knows that the author agonized over every single word as they were writing the book. That thought had never crossed my mind. I’m not positive, but I think I had already started writing The Wages or the Gift when we had this conversation. I was somewhere close the beginning of the first draft. I remember thinking that I am not sure that I “agonized” over words. I mean there is always the desire to make sure my writing is engaging, vivid and tells the best version of the character’s story that I can possibly tell; however, I was not agonizing over every single word.
That was then.
It took me five months, writing every day to finish that first draft. It was an incredibly fun process for me: my first novel. Allow me to provide a bit of insight into my writing process. I am not the kind of writer who outlines her novels. I literally get an idea, start writing and let the story flow until it’s completion. This became a great issue in college when I was learning about the play writing process, but that is another story. (One that I will be writing about in the near future most likely.) Anyway, the benefit of writing like that is the story unfolds before your eyes just like it would to the reader.
After I finished the first draft, I did what comes next. I printed several copies, and gave it people to read. My first editor, aka Jen, got a copy. My mother got a copy. And I think a couple more people got a copy. But I used mostly, Jen’s and my mother’s copies for the second draft of the book. That took me more than five months, of course, and I made corrections, additions, and subtractions based on their notes and my own reread. However, I still did not agonize over each word. So then I start sending the book out to publishers. My book was accepted to The Writer’s Edge, a company that Christian publishers use to find new Christian fiction manuscripts. Which was super exciting, and I got a few noteworthy nibbles, even one from Bethany House, but I did not get any bites.
Fast forward a bit to finally getting a publisher. When I got my manuscript back from my editor, a professional editor this time, I had to go through it again and make the changes needed. So there I was revising the book again. Still I did not agonize over every word. After I finished it, it took another couple of months to get the book back again from my publishers. This time, I noticed a few layout discrepancies. So I went through it with a fine tooth comb, making sure any errors were discovered and corrected. The agonizing began around that time. Unfortunately, during this process, my publisher went out of business. Sad day. Honestly, at that point, I decided instead of looking for another publisher, I would just do it myself.
This is now.
Doing it myself meant I could not use the layout my publisher designed, so I had to completely redesign my book and my book cover. As I redesigned the book and cover, that’s when I really started agonizing over every single word. I thought back to what my best friend had said to me all those years ago and laughed. She was indeed correct; it just took me a while to get to that point.
Now that The Wages or the Gift is published, it’s time to start “agonizing” (possibly) over the second draft of my second novel. I guess the cycle never ends. More next time. Thanks for stopping by my blog!