I suppose I should give you bit of back story. I mean, since you don’t really know me. Well, you might, but even a lot of my friends don’t know the full dramatic tale of how I began Honey Butter. (Dun, dun DUN!)
It started in November of 2016. I had recently gotten back from a trip to Germany with my Dad, a business trip that I was coming along on as a late birthday present. That trip is probably among the top ten most exciting things I’ve ever done. But anyway…
I was still exhausted and jet lagging, and we were a few days into November, when my Mom suggested that maybe I should try out NaNoWriMo. I’ve been writing stories for a loooooong time, and I think we had been talking about my writing the night before, so I immediately agreed, wondering why I hadn’t thought of that before.
I had tried and failed to finish several novels before, probably because I obsessively edited while writing the first draft and because it took me about two hours to write 200 words because they had to be just right. I was at the point that when I told anyone in my family that I got some good work done on “my book”, they would have to ask, “Which one?”
It’s hard for me to believe that that was only a few months ago. Because it all changed when I started NaNoWriMo. I was pushed to tell myself that it was only a first draft, and that I couldn’t edit a blank page, so I just had to get the words down. I had the idea for Honey Butter before NaNoWriMo, although I hadn’t worked on it much, but I knew what I was going to write.
Halfway through the month, I had the realization. “I can actually do this… I’m going to finish a book!”
And I did.
Before, it would take me two years to write five chapters and then give up. But now I had finished a whole book in one month. Granted, it wasn’t something that just magically happened, getting the first draft done was a lot of hard work.
After NaNoWriMo, when the calendar page turned to December, I felt happy and relieved that I had nothing to write – for about three days.
On the fifth day, I started thinking about some obvious revisions I would need to make. And after a week, not writing was just plain painful! I wanted soooo bad to get back to my book! I couldn’t stop thinking about it!
Just like it’s nearly impossible for a reader to put down a good book until they’ve finished reading, it’s nearly impossible for a writer to put down a good book until they’ve finished writing! (Excuse my dramatic author-ness.)
But the thing is, staying away from your first draft for a while is important. It gives you a fresh perspective when you come back to it.
To tell the truth, I never did make it all the way through December without writing. After two weeks I decided I had spent enough time away from it and got back to work. I remember the night before I started revising I made a quick list of changes and hopped into bed. Five minutes later, I turned the light back on, wrote down another change on my list, got back into bed, and turned the light off again. After and another five minutes I turned the light on again and… well, you get the point.
That process repeated itself several times before I told myself I just needed to get to sleep or I wouldn’t have the energy to do anything the next morning. Then of course, when I started editing, I thought I could just rewrite a chapter or two, delete a few paragraphs, and switch a few sentences. Wrong! I had marked up the entire manuscript before I talked to my Dad (who is really an excellent editor) and realized that my edits weren’t enough.
I’m sure you’ve heard before that authors rewrite their books many, many, many, many, MANY, times. I did too. But I didn’t quite realize what that meant until an actually started to do it. When you’re rewriting, you don’t just fix misspellings and switch the order of sentences. The plot needed to be changed quite a bit, and so did many of my character’s motives.
All this meant that I was practically starting from square one again, and I had pretty much ‘wasted’ my time in the mark-up. But it wasn’t really wasted, because through the process of taking a wrong turn, I had learned what I actually needed to do. And that reminds me of a quote I once heard, hold on while I look it up on the internet.
“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” – Auguste Rodin
That is 100% true.