I found this quote on Artist – Mother – Teacher, and I very much resemble it. And, apparently, a lot of other people resemble it; I’ve been checking out a lot of other writers’ blogs lately, and so many people lament the fact that their first bit of writing isn’t what they want it to be. So I feel the need to spread this around as much as possible.
I wrote a little in elementary and high school–including poetry–but I didn’t really start flexing my creative writing efforts until I went to college and started taking classes.
One day I had an idea for a short story. Then I decided I liked it too well to keep it short, so I started to turn it into a novel. But–just as Ira Glass says–I grew disappointed with my budding novel. My main character didn’t seem to have any personality. She was weak and rather helpless. She fell in love with my romantic lead, but only because I wanted her to; there was no real build up of their relationship, no blooming of love. Unsure how to correct what were pretty major fatal flaws (and rather disillusioned with the entire writing process after some bad experiences in those same creative writing classes), I put my book aside for nine years.
Then, in 2009, while I was derping around on the internet, bored and depressed and unemployed, a friend mentioned National Novel Writing Month on Facebook. With nothing better to do, I decided I would participate. At the very least, I thought, it would give me a sense of accomplishment when I finished it. God knew I wasn’t getting anything else done at the time. The few resumes I sent out never got call backs. Some days I couldn’t even find a job posting which I was qualified for (despite the fact that I had 6 years of legal experience and general office–and even retail–experience, plus a degree).
So I decided that I would write a cheesy romance novel–just for shits and giggles. Then I decided to make it a cheesy vampire novel. Then I decided that I might resurrect the characters from my old novel. I had no expectations for myself except to write 50,000 words (no matter how crappy).
I’m going to be publishing that book, Acceptance, in November, three years after starting it.
After I had my first draft done, I actually pulled out my old binder with all the printed pages of the original novel in it (the computer file disappeared on a floppy disk ages ago). I started to read it.
It was even more horrible than I remembered.
But the potential was there. I did a lot of background research on vampires and the Bible, and–with only some small tweaking–all of that came into my new novel intact. (You can read all of the background information here.) I kept the idea of two different types of vampires–one good and one evil–although I altered how the evil vampires worked and where they came from. Kalyn was in her early twenties in the original book; I knocked that down to sixteen and started the book off with her “coming out party.” The original vampires did not keep humans; the new ones not only keep humans (Yaechahre), but the humans are there willingly and have their own culture which is both separate from and connected to the culture of the vampires.
There’s an axiom of writing that I’ve seen referenced in several different places which also needs to be told to new writers: You have a million words of crap in you.
One writer said that when she learned this, she set herself the goal of writing 2,739 words per day for a year, with the thought that she could get out all one million crappy words at once, then start on her career as a writer.
Even bad writing serves a purpose; it siphons off the crap. Just keep plugging along, and eventually you’ll start writing things you’re proud of and it will become easier to do so. Writing is like any other talent: it requires practice.