To me, it’s exciting to know you have a talent for the arts. A lot of people don’t. Some lie in mathematics. Some in science. While I wish I had the talent in science, I don’t in either subject. My forte is writing. I have a passion for creating a whole new world. Honestly, it could be a made-up world that takes place in a Star Trek-type universe, or it’s right in my hometown with my lead investigator solving a grisly murder.
In 2009, I was taking a Creative Writing course in my final semester of college. In that course, I wrote a two-chapter excerpt from a book I had in mind to write. My professor and my classmates loved the first two chapters when they critiqued it. It’s pretty ironic because when I finished those chapters, the person I had “killed” was someone everyone in the story knew and hated—even the three children that found the body! But for whatever reason, my class enjoyed it.
After I finished that class, I continued working on my first draft, including a few more characters that were hateful. Yes, it’s safe to say that there was a lot of hate going on in my first draft. Curious, I must say! My mom read the entire book, said it was great. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. She’s not one to say she liked it if she didn’t, although I wasn’t too pleased. However, I think it’s safe to say she liked the style of writing rather than the story itself.
When I re-read the story in order to change the spelling, punctuation, blah blah blah, I started in on major changes. The thought I had in mind was this: the dead guy was someone everybody hated. Um, yay, he’s dead? I didn’t care that he was dead. So, if I didn’t care, then why should potential readers? I wanted this thing to get published! If I didn’t care that the dead guy was dead, and I knew readers wouldn’t care, then why should publishers? They’d probably give me a phone call just to laugh at me even thinking I had a chance in the hard-to-get-an-agent world. But, you know…I was learning. When you’re starting out, even when you’ve been in the business for a while, there’s a lot to learn in this trade.
So, I completely rewrote the first few chapters. I made my dead guy loved by those who knew him. Boom! I wanted to find this killer that killed this wonderful man whose only crime was making a few mistakes in his life! Another character I created was someone who was also hateful, gruff, borderline abusive. I changed him into a nice guy, but stubborn and not always telling the whole truth. I felt much better with those characters. They were more believable.
As I went through the rewrite of my second draft, I found myself in the midst of a major, major mess. It was a messy story that I wrote on a whim. It took me a year to write the first draft. Starting out, I think a year’s not bad. But it was the rewrite that set me back. I rewrote my manuscript, finished it, my mom read it, liked it. I still didn’t like it.
So comes the third rewrite. I wanted to strangle whoever said, “writing is all about rewriting.” My mom, and eventually when my stepfather
entered the picture, loves to tell me that I need to stop the rewriting. I always stuck to my guns, though. My response was always this: “the story is not over until there’s no more work to be done.” And, yes. My manuscript-in-progress had a LOT of work to be done.
Because it was such a mess, I felt it kind of held me back from writing. I spent years off and on going back to my manuscript. Every time I hit a wall, I’d get depressed and stop writing. I’d also begin two or three other stories on the side, but I would feel guilty that I haven’t finished my first “baby.”
Well, God kept me consistent. I may have been consistently writing off and on, but quite often, I’d hear the last name of one of my characters, which isn’t even a very common name. I would also hear my preacher in church often talk about “if you were meant to be a writer.” Or, I’d turn on Hallmark and a movie about a struggling writer would pop on. Maybe you think I’m crazy. But I think it’s God’s way of saying “get up, child! Finish the book!” Well, as of March 10, 2016, I finished my third, and yes, final draft of my story. The best part of it was that when I finished, I found myself an editor almost immediately. He’s editing as we speak. After re-reading the first seven chapters of my newly edited manuscript, I was like, “wow!” Honestly, after re-reading and rewriting so many times, I wanted to have it edited and not ever read it again. Now, I can’t wait for more!
Oh, and since I’ve finished my manuscript, I haven’t heard the preacher talk about writing, nor have I seen a movie about writing pop on unexpectedly, and I haven’t heard the name of that particular character. Amazing, huh? Well, to me it is…maybe you have to be there!
I’m thrilled that it’s in the hands of my editor. It’s one step closer to being published. And I’m also in the process of the sequel, as well as another manuscript. My fear is that I’ll stumble onto my old roadblocks. I really hope I don’t. However, if finishing this first book taught me anything, it’s this: no matter what happens, whether I’m published, or if it sits on my desktop collecting dust, I can rest assured knowing that it has been completed. It’s been a long road. But I’m taking the wheel, and am pretty satisfied.