by Megan O’Russell
Writing is hard. Anyone who tells you that it isn’t has never had a book published. That’s not to say that the endless hours of writing and the terrible slog of editing aren’t worth it. To me they definitely are. But writing isn’t skipping through a meadow and picking up words like wildflowers. It’s more chopping through a jungle with a machete. And there are leeches, venomous snakes, and mosquitoes. And if you survive your trek through the dark and dangerous expanse of writing a book, your reward is editing, which is like having a root canal while listening to Barney songs on repeat.
Even still, I think it’s worth it. And thousands of people doing NaNoWriMo think it’s worth it, too. My advice to anyone who wants to write a book, whether it’s within a month’s time or over the span of years, is do it.
Just write. If you have a story inside of you, write it down. Don’t play the same amazing scene in your head over and over again. Write it down. And then the next amazing conversation that your characters have to have. Then write out that crazy plot twist that changes everything.
When you come to the end of your tale and everyone is where they should be, whether it’s dead alive or on the edge of a cliff be it real or imaginary, you get to make a choice. Is this worth editing?
And I don’t mean is it good enough. First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect. I mean is getting the book revised and edited a commitment you really want to make to yourself, your stories, or your characters.
If the answer is no, that’s okay. You wrote a story. You let your imagination run wild and had the discipline to record the journey. That is an amazingly huge accomplishment, and it’s fine to stop there.
But if you dream of being published, or if your characters are whispering in your ear that the world should get the chance to hear their story, it’s time to revise and edit.
For me this is always the most painful part. Not only because it takes a lot of time and in my case a lot of making sure I left all the furniture in the book in the right place, but also because you have to be willing to cut a character or a scene. A line that you thought was brilliant might not work in your character’s voice now that you know them better than when you were writing the book. Editing is a time to gain more intimate details, to ensure that a character’s voice and logic are maintained throughout their story. Or if it changes, to be sure you and your readers know why.
But you don’t have to erase that brilliant line forever. For me the easiest thing to do is to keep a separate file of the darlings I’ve had to kill. Then I’m not really killing them. Just moving them to a new home. Whether or not I ever open that file after I’m done editing is a question for another time.
Editing is a dark tunnel filled with the endless cycle of perceived brilliance and despair at the certainty that you are a hack. But in those moments when your finger is hovering above the delete button, remember why you started writing the story.
Remember that scene that called to you, that character that haunted you, and push forward. You wrote for them. You made the choice to edit so their story could be told. Take a breath, or a day, or even a month. Write it in your planner, or set a reminder in your phone. You have a date with your book. You have to edit and polish it.
And when you can think straight and you’ve decided that you shouldn’t throw your computer out a window, start back at it.
And one day you’ll be done. And then you give your book to a beta reader and wait in fear.
Then you edit… again.
And then submissions come.
If the stars align, you get a contract. Then you have the joy of editing again. But this time there is help! A trained professional to guide you.
Your treat for surviving is getting a book cover with your name on it you can show all your friends.
And then you get to hold your book in your hands. It’s been months, more likely years since you first decided that you had a brilliant idea that had to be written. You’ve probably cried, and more than likely hated yourself for ever writing the damn thing in the first place.
But you now have a book. And you are the author. And I promise you, it was worth it.
About the Author:
Megan’s published works include Young Adult fantasy series The Tethering books one and two of which are currently available with book three out in spring 2016. Megan’s Christmas novella Nuttycracker Sweet will be release by Fiery SeasPublishing this holiday season. Megan is also a featured author in the Athena’s Daughters 2 anthology of women in speculative fiction.
Megan is a professional performer who travels the country living out a thousand lives on stage. Her wonderful husband and frequent dance partner is always by her side.
For more information on Megan’s books, you can visit her website at meganorussell.com
The Tethering (The Tethering #1)
All sixteen-year-old Jacob Evans wants is to win the heart of Emilia Gray, but with order in the magical world crumbling, war threatening, and Emilia’s boyfriend living across the hall, he may never have the chance.
Jacob Evans loses everything he has ever known and is tossed into a world of magic. The Dragons, a group of rebel wizards, are threatening to expose the existence of magic to humans. Jacob is determined to find a way to fit into Emilia’s family, but as his powers grow, so does the danger. With the death toll mounting, Jacob is accused of acts of rebel terrorism and must fight to stay in a world he’s only just beginning to discover.
When Emilia’s life is threatened, Jacob must risk everything to save her. Does he have the power to rescue her in time? And what could their survival cost?
The Siren’s Realm (The Tethering #2)
Jacob loves Emilia Gray, but things aren’t always that simple in the world of Magickind…
The war has begun.
The Dragons are gaining power, and the Gray Clan stands alone. Desperate to find a way to stop the Pendragon, Emilia is forced to seek answers from someone who hasn’t been seen in seventeen years . . . Her mother. Embarking on a magical journey filled with witches, wizards, centaurs and a dangerous and powerful Siren, Jacob and Emilia must take a leap of faith to a land neither could have ever imagined . . . and hope they can then find their way home.
A huge thank you to Megan for once again writing an amazing post and dedicating her time to helping all of us struggling writers. Just writing it all out, good or bad, is so important, and I’m extremely thankful that Megan touched on this topic today. I’m positive that it will help many of us as we go into the new year with determination and brand new writing resolutions.
As always, THANK YOU to every author who has contributed, and will contribute to this feature. Your advice is priceless and your time is appreciated.