The 20,000-Word Mark

They often (read: rarely, but I’m making it a thing. Fight me) say that a writer is the one who finds time to write. While I have always written (I cannot remember a period of longer than six months where there wasn’t something in the works) I have never made the time to write. It had always been a case of “oh, I have a day free, I guess I’ll write a little something”, and I have never found myself clawing for a pen, a keyboard, to write down my words.

Recently, that has changed.

In the last month, I have written ten thousand words of my novel. I have rewritten more than that, and continue to smash away loudly at my keyboard almost every day, hammering out a target of one thousand words – sometimes more, and sometimes less. It has gone from being a slog, to being delightful, to being a bit of a slog, to again being the easiest thing. I edit on the go; that paragraph I just wrote doesn’t sound right. Delete it, try again. Plot point seems contrived and silly? Delete it, try again. Getting it perfect? No. Getting it right? Yes. It is, after all, a first draft. I cannot hope to make it perfect the first time around.

I have even doubted myself more than ever, accusing myself of using clunky prose, or bland characters (I am working on that, however). It is less out of self-hatred, as I’d know if it were, and more out of self-improvement. There is a small, but key difference there, being that I do not hate my writing, but I believe I can do better. My aim, after finishing, is to write the novel again, at least in part. Read through it as if I were reading someone else’s work, then decide what could do with improvement.

Because I know I can make a publishable book. I have it in me. Even if it won’t be the next The Lord of the Rings, or the next Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie is one of the best sci-fi writers around, and I highly recommend all of her work), it is not meant to be. For goodness sake – it’s a first novel! It’s not going to be a classic. I will make it as good as I can, and if it does not get published, I will learn what I can and try again.

That is another difference between the aspiring writer and the actual writer; those who are constantly aspiring, but give up at the first bump, will never complete anything. Those who learn what they can and move on, will eventually publish something. If you decided after your first E-grade in school that you’re going to fail, you’d have dropped out and always wondered where you would have been if you’d stuck at it. The same goes for writing. Goodness, I look back at my childhood attempts and laugh (and cry) at how awful it is. If I’d stopped then, I wouldn’t have ever got to this point, of being what-you’d-call a writer-in-progress, someone who is unpublished but working their hardest to just get over the next hurdle, even if it is about ten feet tall. Knock it down, go around. You can ALWAYS get past it. Don’t give up.

I am uncompromising on this. The manuscript will be beaten into shape with blood, sweat, and tears, no matter if my fingertips wear away. I wake up every morning, I write 500 words, I go to University, I come back, I write more. I write as much as I can, and if I do, eventually something will stick.

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