Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Today, I spent hours moving parts of my novel around, making tiny changes, contemplating big ones. I got so sick of myself, that I put it aside until 6 tonight, when I actually got some writing done. 1,039, part revised, a lot of it new. And still, I don't feel like I've done anything. 

I need an attitude adjustment. Those hours of moving things around count -- even though they aren't as satisfying as typing out a new scene that I love, they count. They're necessary -- annoying but necessary. 

I've never been at this stage with a novel before, where I'm revising and filling in gaps, and have a more or less complete story. I have a feel for the piece as a whole, but some parts are still very fuzzy, and looking at the novel as a whole is still unwieldy and awkward. I have to trust that if I keep working on small sections day by day, it will grow into shape. That's happened for the first 60 pages or so. Today, I just happened to hit a part that I hadn't looked at in months, and it felt like starting over. 

Persistence is key. I still have energy for this project. I still believe that I'll complete it. What terrifies me is the idea that my energy will run out. I've heard some quotation that novels are never completed, they're abandoned. I don't mind the idea of abandoning my novel without it being perfect. But I'm terrified of abandoning it before it's something I can share. And, yes, when I say share, I do mean publish. That's what I want. 

There's some stigma around saying that, as if writing should be an end unto itself, and it is, to a certain extent. But I've been a writer for years and years. I want to be an author. It's a good thing to want, a good thing to try to be ready for. 


Varian Johnson said...

You're not allowed to run out of energy on this manuscript. It's too good for that. It deserves to be published.

Rachel Wilson said...

I did mention those smart, talented, supportive people who surround me, right? Thank you, Varian.

Varian Johnson said...

No prob.

Like I've said numerous times, Manatee is going to be a very good novel once you finish it. I selfishly want you to hurry up and get it done, but I also want you to take your time and get it right. I'm just so conflicted!!!

Nicolapagos said...

There's no such thing as starting over at this point. Even if you did eventually abandon this novel, you've already got a lot more words under your belt as a result of all the work you've done (any idea what the total new/revised tallies are?). I can't speak to what you've done so far on this novel, and there's a lot about novel-writing that i haven't figured out yet, but i do know that everything we do as writers is cumulative, and that one way or another we have to make peace with that and use it. When you look at a section you haven't seen in a long time, and it feels like starting over, just remember that it's because you've made so much progress elsewhere.

Thank you for your blog, by the way. I learn a lot from reading about your process, and as you always have been you are absolutely inspiring to me.

Rachel Wilson said...

Thanks, Nicholas. You know the inspiration goes both ways. As to words, I have no idea as to the revised/new divide, but the current version of the monster is at around 88,000. That's not counting what I've already cut.

At one point I cut around 100 double-spaced pages, but some of that's been revised and worked back in.

I've put a bit more than a third of the current stuff into "order" in what will be a new draft. The idea of drafts still confuses me at this stage in the game. I may post about that later.

Micol Ostow said...

It's really hard to maintain momentum on revisions, which never feel as satisfying as new material. But if your butt is in the chair, you're working.

And btw, you're totally allowed to want to be published. And I'm sure you will be.