I know that during Easter, we have a holiday to celebrate Christ’s rise from death… but since I have the time off, I decided that I would utilise it for some heavy hitting writing. I wanted to write between 8000-10,000 words on my work in progress. Big goal, but I knew that it would be worth it in the end, and that when I came out on the other side of Easter, I would have some serious work to show for it.
Well, the first day of my wee mini-break Easter holiday, I did nothing but talk about how much I needed to do. In amongst that, I made a blog banner for our book reviewing blog (go check it out if you want – Just One More Page) and I listened to music, tried to read, watched Forest Gump, and all in all – I pretty much messed around for the whole day. Not productive in the slightest.
Then when I woke up yesterday morning, I found a brand new text from one of my toughest beta-readers. The other day I gave her a very draft manuscript – the first book of this trilogy that I am writing. The feedback that she gave me was so amazing, that it instantly sent me dancing for joy around the house. My poor husband had no idea what struck him. I even texted my writerly friends with the news from my beta-reader, and wallowed and bathed in the warmth of that feedback.
You see, I have been struggling to motivate myself with the second book of the trilogy. I have been stuck in a bit of a rut, and doing everything else to avoid something that has been grating on my nerves for a long time. A couple of weeks ago, I managed to lose the only work that I had done on this novel in months, god only knows how, and I have been feeling very glum about the whole thing ever since. I think that there are many points in a writer’s life when we all just want to throw the whole thing in, and give up. Oh, I know – it’s in our blood etc, etc, but we really do feel the urge to give up – especially when things seem to landing in the ‘too hard basket’. People are constantly telling me that I must have a huge amount of patience, dedication, commitment, and discipline to write as well as work a 40 hours week at the Evil Day Job… but sometimes those qualities are just not enough, and I start questioning them.
So when my beta-reader told me yesterday that I have to finish this trilogy, and book II, she wasn’t kidding. This beta-reader is one of the most straight up women you will ever come across. If she doesn’t like it, she will tell you. If she thinks that bits are missing, or there needs to be more work, she will throw endless ideas and suggestions at you to make it better for the reader. Beta-reader’s like this a few and far between, and I am lucky to have her with me on this journey.
A few weeks ago, she rang me up and said, “Come on, Leigh… I know you have something for me. Now send it up to me, and let me have a read of it. It’s been a year since I have read any of your work.” What did I do? I procrastinated. The manuscript was still in draft – unedited, and in a total state. I couldn’t send it to someone like that!! I wouldn’t wish that mess on my worst enemy for goodness sake. But then when she came down to Wellington for a meeting on Wednesday, and she sat down with me, made me print it out, and she pulled out her red pen. And she read it. Red pen in hand. She flew home, still reading… still with her red pen. And then yesterday I got the text. She told me that I had better take a month off to finish off the next book.
And this is where her motivational points kick in for me:
- Awesome plot, Leigh!
- I have to know what happens.
- I love the characters.
- You have fleshed the characters out just enough for me to want to always know more.
- The water connections between the beginning and the end, was epic.
- And the whole book was a huge surprise.
- Can you tell that I loved it?
- By the way, there is bugger all red pen across the script.
Whoa… slow down. Apparently I have done something right. Unedited right….? What the hell is that? Coming from a woman who will tell me if it’s shit or not, is pretty amazing. I was in shock. I really was. This is not blowing smoke up my own ass, but apparently I did something right! Am I going in the right direction though?
And you know what? Suddenly I saw the trilogy through her eyes. I saw it as an unresolved story, and something that I have to keep writing, no matter how I feel about the whole thing at the moment. So last night, I sat down with my writer friends, and we did Word Wars. And I managed to crank out more than 3000 words of quality (haha) additional words to the manuscript. And I want more. There are more to go, and more scenes to develop, and then in the not too distant future of this manuscript, it will be wrapped up and finished, and I will be ready for the third and final instalment.
And now that I have just looked at the word count of this blog more, I realise that I should have channelled my energy, and applied the same word count to my novel… it’s almost 1000 words.
Wish me luck!
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Excellent, Leigh. Amazing that you can see the trilogy through her eyes. Zuli and I are rooting for your books to be on our bookshelves, one of these days.
Yay! And I can’t wait for the books to be sitting on your shelves. I also can’t want for all your work to be lining mine either. One day… we will prevail 🙂
Good luck! And thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post! I’ve been feeling like quitting on my writing for a couple weeks. It’s been such a struggle since my husband deploys. I’m starting to get my feet back beneath me now, and I hate quitting. I really hate quitting. But I’m glad there are others out there who are feeling the blahs too! I hope your beta-reader’s encouragement propels you forward to the finish of Books II and III! Keep up that spirit!
Leah, this is a hard journey that writers struggle down. It can be lonely, fearful, and yet we get some sadistic sense of deep satisfaction from all this. Hold on, one step at a time, and remember how you feel when things start to go the right way…. that’s the motivating key. Chin up, my friend, we are all on the same road. All my love, and big hugs.
Leigh, I’m thrilled for you, my friend! It’s ok to be unsure. It’s ok to be scared. The key is to bust through anyway. I think you will and with flying colors! 😀
And when I have beautiful people like you around me, I can achieve anything 🙂 By the way – it’s people like you writerly folk that help keep me going. Because if I didn’t have you guys around, I would think I was the only one in the world who feels like this from time to time.
We know you can do it, Leigh. Sometimes like a pregnancy, the result just comes at its own sweet time. Just try to enjoy it and trust the process. You may just need some down time…that’s OK>
Well, Mary-Lou, my brain is saying, ‘Enough downtime missy – get to it!’
This time I think I will listen, and not procrastinate. Take the signs for what they are, and when a beta-reader says to get cracking, then I’m going to seriously crack my own whip with this one. We’ll see. I’m not going to drive myself into the depths of hell to come out with a shiny new MS… I’ll take my time with it, and roll it around for a while. Who knows how long it will take, but I would like to get a good chunk out of the way this weekend.
Thanks for stopping by, Mary-Lou – awesome to see you here.
Everything worth anything in this life starts off with 50% struggle and 50% patience. Every story in this world started off in the same way. Stories are the lifeblood of all cultures and whether you get paid for it or not, your writing lifts you as a writer up out of the human doubts and fears of this world. To dream is to risk, to risk is to dream. Go forth and forge ahead. Your story will be completed and a publisher will love it. So proud of you my friend. 🙂 So buoyed by your enthusiasm. Write on faithful scribe. Write on.
Kim, you have just come out with the perfect words… I might have to write those down for my library wall. Thank you 🙂
Thanks, Kim. You are so right!!!