“You’re a fantastic person. Grow, don’t change.” – W. M. Clunie, 2005
I almost started this post with a quote from Muhammad Ali, but decided instead to go with the more personal advice given to me by my favorite teacher from High School.
My High School has a tradition that after receiving diplomas, graduates proceeded down a line of all teachers and shakes every hand before the ceremony is over. The teacher in question had retired the year before, and thus, wasn’t supposed to be in the line. However, when I reached his wife and offered my hand, she bowed her head to me and stepped back so her husband could join the line of teachers just for me.
He didn’t shake my hand, he hugged me and told me those words. They remained with me all those years since.
Aside from waxing poetic about this memory, what does it mean for my writing?
In the past year I finished drafts of three books. Two of which I queried with and self-published (Beneath the Wood and Five Talents). The third in progress, Drawful the Awful, has followed the discipline and process established with the prior two projects, but it is also being subject to more thorough rewrites and aggressive work to make it the best it can possibly be.
Two years ago when I deleted all my writing archives to start from what I called “page zero,” the goal was to reestablish my habits of regular writing and to develop a higher level of focus on a given project.
I feel I’ve accomplished that. I write or edit almost daily.
Now, I can produce a draft of a novel within a couple of months. I have the process of proofreading down pat. I know how to do my research to prepare for querying. What I need to evolve next is the iron will to make the big changes: rewrite entire scenes, move things around, change plot details and make not just the writing, but the story better.
That’s what I’m doing now with Drawful. As I mentioned, it’s undergoing some fairly significant changes- especially compared to the work I did with the prior two projects. This should not be an aberration, this should be the standard going forward.
Drawful the Awful is absolutely going to be the best story I’m capable of producing at this point in my writing career. As will whatever comes after it. I can’t wait to share them, but I trust you can enjoy its predecessors in the meantime because they are still very much my own as well.