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First Draft - Issue 7: Love the one you're with
A little news: Last week I learned there will be an audiobook for Endpapers and we'll have a genderqueer or nonbinary narrator (yes!)! You can learn more about Endpapers — out 2/7 — and find preorder links here. Or, better yet, preorder it from Buffalo Street Books or your local indie!
Last week, as I was trying to zip through another revision of my WIP, I tweeted a couple of times about how much I can’t wait to be done so I can work on a new novel I’m really excited about:
Then Friday I took the day off from work so I could finally get through the damn draft — and, huzzah, I made it! I should have felt ecstatic. Even though I knew it would need another pass, I was almost there.
Except I wasn’t. I was relieved, yes, but there was a big problem: I wasn’t sure the book was good.
I shook it off, reminding myself that every time I read my own work, I have a different opinion of it. Sometimes I’m overjoyed because it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, while another time all I see is a worthless attempt at writing.
But this time something about my disappointment was different. I believed I'd written a decent enough story, and it was entertaining to read, but even a day later, I couldn’t ignore that in some important way it's not the book I’d intended to write. The groundwork is there, but I haven’t gone deep enough into the characters or their motivation or how the main action ties into those things.
I looked back at my notes about why I’d written this book to begin with, and it was clear that the themes that are most important to me simply aren’t fleshed out enough on the page. My disappointment grew. I had to face a difficult decision: Do I still believe in the book enough to forge ahead despite how much work might be in front of me? And, more important, do I want to?
Then later, as I was folding laundry, it occurred to me that instead of continuing to be upset, I was already brainstorming ways to infuse the story with more of what I’d meant it to be. And through doing this, I actually found myself falling back in love with the novel.
Don’t mistake me: I’m still impatient to get it done. That shiny, new project is waiting for me, after all. But now that I've looked what this project needs in the face and asked myself if I still care enough to put the work in, I’m no longer in a huge rush to finish just for the sake of finishing. I’ve been inspired by the possibility of breathing new life into these pages and writing the story I set out to write years ago.
So this week, I’m looking forward to diving back in and answering the questions I've laid out out for myself. And most likely asking more.
If there’s a project you’re working on that’s lost its magic — whether it’s writing or anything else — this week I encourage you to explore whether there’s something you can do, some new way you can look at it, that might allow you to fall in love with it again. At least for long enough to get it across the finish line and feel good about the result.
Meanwhile, I look forward to next time.