Happy Friday everyone. I hope you had a good week and found some time to reflect on Remembrance Day (Veteran’s Day for my US friends). I always make time to appreciate the sacrifice those soldiers made all those years ago and those today who are still sacrificing to make our world a better place. This kind of inspired my blog piece for this week because it reminded me of the novels I wrote when I was 17.
I wrote a romance trilogy over the course of about two years, from 17-18. At the time, I was so excited that I completed three manuscripts and so sad when I finished them. I remember sitting at my computer screen typing the last words of my third novel and after I saw the words ‘the end’ I ended up crying. I cried happy and some sad tears because I knew my time with those characters had come to an end. After that emotional rollercoaster, I needed to take a break from it, so I left those books alone for years until one day I had an itch to edit them. I had some more writing experience under my belt by then; I’d taken a few college writing courses and felt like I was ready to make my return to them. Reading about five or six pages in, I realised they were horribly written and it was going to take some serious editing to get them where they needed to be. I think I tried for six months before I just couldn’t stand the book any longer. The plot events and character reactions were so far-fetched that no one would believe them. The grammar of the book was just as bad and quickly I became overwhelmed by the crappiness of my book, so I turned my back on it again. This happened several times over the course of ten years that I kept coming back to those stories and trying to fix them up piece by piece, but I couldn’t figure out why I would only grow more and more frustrated and never felt like I was getting anywhere. The crap book hole just seemed to get bigger and bigger every time I touched it. But just a few weeks ago I had an ‘ah-ha’ moment. During one of the seminars I attended the instructor was talking about how he edits a book by telling us about a book he’d written years prior but just couldn’t bring himself to edit it because too much time had passed. He explained that the writer who wrote that book no longer existed. As years go back our writing evolves, we evolve and to try to go back and edit the words just doesn’t work. YES! Yes, it totally completely made sense. Every time I added a sentence or edited words, I was doing so as my current writer self, not as the 17-year-old writer. The only way to go back to those stories would be to rewrite them all over again from scratch and edit them to perfection soon after completing them. All the anger, frustration at myself I felt for trying and failing, it all got washed away. I wasn’t a failure because I couldn’t edit my story. Finally after all these years, I can just appreciate those stories for what they really were…. practice. I was practicing to be a romance novelist. I feel good now that they are a part of my history and don’t need to be in my present. One day, far in the future, I might get the courage up to rewrite them all over again, but if I don’t, I will always have those three novels, frozen in time, as only my 17-year-old self could write. Those books are my time machine to bring me back to those nights after school, typing furiously in my bedroom, for hours. Back when I had endless amounts of free time and much angst living inside me, ready to spill out on to the pages.
I can’t wait to read my blog posts in twenty years from now and admire how much farther my writing will develop. Maybe I’ll appreciate my angst-y 30-year-old self then too.
Til next week.