The Writing Life: It’s a Process, Not a Problem

Writing has been my pastime for over two decades.  I say pastime as it has not been a major source of income for me.  However, it has been a wonderful outlet for my creativity.  I have written everything from press releases, business profiles to short stories and novels.  In all of this time, I have not focused on polishing/editing a longer work.  I find myself now at that juncture.  What a big job!

My first completed novel “Opening Up” was edited professionally, and I created the book cover.  I was elated when the book went live through Smashwords and Amazon.  Then, a few days later, the first of several reviews went up.  And yup, you guessed it — the reviews were not flattering.  They liked the writing but HATED the POV character.  Three of the four reviews spoke of the POV character being bipolar; if she was going to be a diva (read: bitch) she should do so full out and not be nice in one area and crazy ridiculous in another area.  The next observation (read: complaint) was that another character that fully shows up approximately 1/2 way into the book was the really interesting character.  The four reviewers unanimously stated they wanted to see more of this character right up front.

So, while my first foray into the novel form was not wholly successful, the reviews were extremely helpful!  I pulled the book down and took a closer look at the entire work in light of the reviews.  In conjunction with insight from my writing mentors, it was shown that the reviewers were right.  This book is women’s fiction.

That whole book needed to be re-written from the POV of this character that showed up in deep the original book.  What ultimately came out of this process was a totally new book.  “Opening Up” has to be re-written; some of the same characters will be in the new book but it has a totally different focus.  The new book also will have a new name.  So, good idea but implementation needed work.  This newly edited version of “Opening Up” was no longer women’s fiction; it was going to be African-American/spiritual/women’s fiction  So, I put this book aside and went on to a new book realizing that the newly revised book would need lots of research.

Now, this new-new book was a totally different genre something that I thought would be “easier” — a supernatural cop thriller; et’s call it SCT. (I’m a masochist, aren’t I??).  This SCT book went along swimmingly because I wrote the outline first full outline that spanned 6 pages hitting all of the plot points.  Therefore, when I wrote it, the writing came fairly easily as I knew where the book was going at each major point.

The book’s first draft was completed in 3 1/2 months.  The editing took a bit longer and it was not fully completed until May 2013 (it was started in late October 2012.  Since May, I’ve submitted it to a number of agents and publishers, the consensus?  This book has a great story but the writing needs to be ‘elevated’.  This stumped me to no end.

I’ve been writing for a LONG time.  I’ve been told I write well yet my fiction writing needs to ‘go to the next level’?  Throw this in with 3 kids, a fairly demanding full-time job, and trying to have quality time with my spouse?  Yeah, this book also got pushed to the side.  After the depression lifted a bit, I decided to take another gander at the reviews/feedback on SCT.  Again, not bad reviews.  But work was needed.

Therefore, I focused on trying to figure out what the issue is/was.  I’ve since enrolled in a writing course that will help me find the strengths and weaknesses of my writing and provide valuable feedback from editors of a well-regarded literary journal.  Secondly, I am writing daily and working on one short story a month and editing each of them — you know, to get that editing/polishing muscle out of its atrophied state.

And you know what?  One of my short stories has been accepted for publication in an online magazine!  (Don’t you love a nice ending to a sad story??)

While this is a step in the right direction, I am still looking forward to the writing course to help me truly discern what I need to work on and improve in my writing.  Hence my Twitter moniker — Writing is a process; not a problem!

As you read this my fellow writers, what has been your journey in the writing process?  Do you/did you find that you needed assistance to bring forth the true shine of your writing projects?  Did you achieve success (or any measure of success) when you implemented certain changes/solutions?

Please share!!  I’d love to hear how you have navigated this gnarly writing path.

All the best,

The NoteBook Blogairy

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4 thoughts on “The Writing Life: It’s a Process, Not a Problem

  1. Oh, where to begin? First, sharing your struggles is such a healthy way to vent. I am new to all of this and my experience is quite limited thus far, but I know how frustrating the process can be. Reading your journey will certainly help other writers on the same path.
    I have always enjoyed writing. As a shy child I found some comfort and confidence in the written word. It doesn’t surprise me that at a difficult time in my life, I sat down and decided to write a book. Three months. 150,000 word romance from a no-name writer. It wasn’t going to sell, but I also didn’t give it enough time. I’m incredibly proud of Stolen Skye, but I wish I’d let it simmer longer. I am far too impatient for traditional publishing, I’m afraid.
    Sales for the e-book are doing well, but it still astounds me that strangers not only read my work, somehow finding me, but also take the time to reach out to me on my book page, singing it’s praises. The fact that even one person is waiting on my sequel is incredible to me.
    The most beneficial thing I’ve admitted to myself is how much I need another skilled person to review my work and offer me honest critiques. @TRPerri is my editor and I simply can’t say how much of a difference he is making in my process. Writing a sequel is so much harder for me than the first book and his ability to make me focus, call me on my crap and talk me down out of my crazy tree is all making me a better writer.
    I’m also working on a paranormal romance that I would like to see traditionally published so I can learn that process as well, but who knows how likely that is. Despite the difficulty, I’m in love with the process of writing and all the pieces that come with it. There is a lot of negativity and rejection at times, but none of it compares to that first note from a thrilled reader. In short, I’m hooked.

    Like

    • Nina,
      You’re so right! Writing is a reward in and of itself but when a reader shares their love for your work — it’s the best! Your writing journey sounds just as fraught with challenges, insight and WORK as any one else’s journey. Creative people always have to overcome challenges in order to get the work (the writing!!) done. So many little things can stop us. Things that, on the surface, seem legit but are in reality just excuses, or opportunities for excuses to stop us. We have to be the bull-crap controllers and get the words written…no matter what.

      Please consider me one of your writer friends, Nina!

      Like

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