Last Friday I typed “The End” on book two of a three-book trilogy about Phoebe’s adventures in romance-land. It’s been a haul for sure, starting with book 1, which I started before the McDaniel class in 2012, and didn’t progress much or at all in 2012 because of class, 2013 because of poor health, and 2015 because of family issues.
But now book 2 is finished. It still needs revisions—the last chapter in particular, which I thought I’d have to rewrite completely, but perhaps all I have to do is cut the last 1,000 words. I want to conflate two of my characters, that will take some thought. And there’s still the beta reads to go. Still, it’s all done but the shouting, as we’d say back in the Midwest.
Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that I ever got this far with it. Book 2, in particular, was a dog. There were those many bleak months when I
complained discussed how I’d write 500 words in one day and delete 5,000. How does a person keep going under these conditions?
I count myself lucky that I worked as a reporter for a couple of small newspapers. Needing to fill 15 column inches, or 30, or 50 in one day is challenging. You can’t wait for the muse to strike, and you can’t have writer’s block. You just have to gather your thoughts and write it. That’s good training if you want to become a novelist. It’s no accident that some great novelists—Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, Charles Dickens, PG Wodehouse, and many more—were journalists. So I still sat down most days, even if what I wrote was utter crap.
But in that period of writing junk, I was reading a lot. I got some great feedback from readers. I got a great review in Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. (Sorry, that’s just shameless self-promotion.) Those were great stimulants.
Today when I started revisions on Phoebe 2, I felt grateful—happy to have the reading bug, feedback, reviews, and training—and also happy to have all of you and the Eight Ladies out there as cheerleaders. Because nothing lifts the spirits like some [metaphorical] pom-poms!
When I was casting around the internet today, I ran across an essay by Kerry Lonsdale. It’s a “letter to writers” in which she talks about why we’re willing to sit in those dark rooms and write. Maybe you’ll enjoy her take on things.