My recently completed novel manuscript addresses falling in love, second time around love, old people in love, disappointments in love, unconditional love, and steadfastness in love. There’s also a bomb scare, dog antics, and a poetry reading in the story, so don’t think all I did was write characters who spent 350 pages giving one another moony looks.
I mention the three years it took me to write this manuscript because my expectation was that it would take only one. I’m a fast writer, I knew my characters, the plot was clear in my head, so writing 100,000 words could not possibly take more than 52 weeks.
Ha. And ha again.
Writers produce at different speeds. Many of my mystery writing friends and clients produce one or two books a year. Some of my other friends produce a book every five years. I think I fall in the middle. I spent three years of my life devoted to this novel manuscript—which is soon winging its way to an independent editor for review, because I do that too—and there’s clean-up ahead before I sent it out to an agent. While I worked on the novel, I also edited many other novels, and wrote short stories and creative nonfiction pieces, and I blogged and taught online courses and did PR and BSP. None of that is special. It’s the life of a working writer in 2014.
There were times during the three years that I was pleased as can be with a scene, and other times when I wanted to burn it all and gouge the characters out of my brain. Times I thought my writing was pretty darn brilliant. Times I thought my dog could have crafted a better sentence. I went through all the stages of love–euphoria, excitement, crushing hurt, doubt, renewal–with my story. I stuck it out because I loved it. You don’t devote three years of your life to a thing you think is just okay.
And now it’s 2015. It has become my tradition on New Year’s Day to post a Sacred Writing Time Pledge to encourage authors to affirm their commitment to writing. This year, as I post this, I am thinking about love again. It’s love of reading that brought many of us to seek this crazy life as a writer, so my goal for 2015 is to fall in love again, with a new story. Because, despite the ups and downs and frustrations and doubts, I wouldn’t trade the past three years for anything.
The Sacred Writing Time Pledge
On January 1, 2012, I offered the following pledge for the first time. Now, four years later, I post it again. Think of it as renewing a vow–or falling in love for the first time, or again—with what you want to write.
Writers write. Writers who get published complete work and submit that work to agents and editors. It’s how it works. The way to write for publication is to commit to it. That means nothing–and no one–stands in the way of your writing goals.
For 2015, consider taking this pledge:
I ____________ (<-your name) do solemnly swear to devote _________ amount of time each day to Sacred Writing Time. That means no one and nothing disturbs this time, including myself.
I will work at ___________________ (<-location). When you, the undersigned, see me at this location, you will respect my Sacred Writing Time Pledge and not disturb me unless there is blood flowing from multiple places on someone’s body.
Signatures: __________________(<-yours) _________________________(<-your family’s)