I’m at an interesting crossroads with my writing at the moment. To be honest I haven’t had a clear focus lately. So much of my attention has been on The Colonists that my novel writing has suffered. In fact, even when it comes to novels I have a divided focus.
I had been writing my book Hybrid force for a couple of years, but a big push over January of 2010 saw my manuscript completed. After that it just sat around for a while. It was finished wasn’t it? Anyone who is a writer knows that a first draft is a far cry from a publishable book. Unfortunately, I had never really done any work on a writing project after I’d written the last page. I had always declared victory and moved on to the next project. I did in fact begin trying to write a sequel later that year during NaNoWriMo. I lasted a week. The rapid writing of NaNoWriMo is not really for me I think. The biggest problem was that I was ‘making it up as I went’. Unlike with my first novel, I hadn’t taken the time to plan out the scenes in advance in my head. The biggest thing that I’ve learned about myself in recent time is that I am absolutely, most-definitely, not a pantser.
In mid 2011, I submitted my manuscript to The Caleb Prize for Unpublished Fiction which is run by Omega Writers. I had done a little editing here and there but I really had no idea how to edit a novel. In my mind it was still essentially a completed work. In truth my manuscript wasn’t ready for publication, and deep down even was very much aware of that, but I got some very valuable feedback. A lot of problems were pointed out, but it was indicated that with sufficient work, my manuscript could be made publishable. Awesome!
I’ve been actively studying the craft of writing this year and have learned a lot. I now see a lot of the problems with my draft. During all of this, a new story idea has been growing in my mind. My enthusiasm is growing daily for this new project. I am writing an outline so I don’t loose the details to the endless void of forgotten memory. It is tempting to set my existing manuscript aside and put my attention onto this new novel. After all, outlining and then writing the first draft is the fun bit. This is what I do for leisure. Editing is much more like hard work. Many people say that first novels rarely get published anyway so why not just put it down to experience huh? That would be the easy way out. In truth, I’m not ready to give up on my novel. I still believe it has a chance of being made into a publishable book, and even if that doesn’t happen I will learn so much about the task of editing a novel that the process will not have been wasted. If I ever want to earn the title ‘Author’ then it’s time to do the hard yards. And to be honest, I’m feeling pretty enthused about it right now.