2017: My Year in Writing


I’ve been doing my annual end-of-year inventory, looking back at what I hoped to accomplish and what I actually did accomplish this past year. Some things—like selling my house—didn’t come to fruition; others—like getting a salaried job with benefits—did.

When it came to my writing, it felt like I hadn’t done much. But when I looked through my writing folder, I realized I’d done a lot more than I realized. 

Since January, I have: 

  • completed a major plot revision draft of my novel  
  • progressed to the finals of the NYC Midnight 2017 Short Story Challenge 
  • queried two articles to a children’s history magazine (neither was accepted) 
  • entered two short stories in a Writer magazine contest (Neither placed but both did make it past the second round of judging.) 
  • submitted a short story for consideration for a 2018 anthology  
  • attended a writers’ conference  
  • heard Stephen King speak about the craft of writing  

My hope now is to continue this momentum in 2018! 

In Which I Compare My Novel to a Squirrel

I've been struggling with the second draft of The Novel for months. I was down to the last eight chapters and something kept niggling at me. Even with the changes, the story wasn't sitting right with me and for the life of me, I could not figure out why. I grew increasingly frustrated. Every time I opened Scrivener, it felt like an exercise in futility. I spent less and less of my writing time working on The Novel until I was avoiding it completely.

Then, about a month ago, while I was packing for my Wales trip, I had an epiphany. It finally hit me what was wrong with the manuscript, which gave me a way to fix it. The problem was, I was boarding a plane in short order and didn't have time to put that epiphany into action.

I've been home two weeks, and that epiphany has not left me. I spent last weekend scribbling ideas and even hand-wrote four pages of a new chapter. I think, maybe, I'm finally on the right track with this story.

Then tonight I opened Scrivener to remove the chapters that aren't working.

And I froze.

A panic seized me. It felt as if I'm doing harm to a living thing. It felt the way it did when I accidentally ran over a squirrel with my car. I do not like this feeling.

Still, I know this is the right thing to do. So I sit here with my thumb poised on my laptop trackpad, trying to summon the courage to click the chapters away. . . .


Diving Back In

Almost one month ago to the day, I finished the first draft of my WIP. (That's work-in-progress, for those unfamiliar with the acronym.) That first draft took me 16 months to write. There were times I felt completely overwhelmed by the story, like maybe this particular story was beyond my ability to tell.

Now, after letting the manuscript sit for a month, I've spent this weekend re-reading it, reviewing my notes, and making a plan for Draft 2. The novel wasn't nearly as bad as I remember it being. It's still flawed (there's a reason schools call first drafts "sloppy copies"), but it has better bones than I thought it did.

A work-in-progress: my first draft manuscript, my list of revision notes, and pens and Post-Its to put it all in order.

A work-in-progress: my first draft manuscript, my list of revision notes, and pens and Post-Its to put it all in order.

I'm excited to dive back in. I've missed these characters. I've missed this story. And I've missed revising. Revising, I think, is my favorite part of the writing process. I revise much faster than I draft. It's far easier for me to re-shape or replace something that already exists than it is to come up with something new out of whole cloth. This is the part of the process where I shine, I think. And I'm eager to get going again.

I told myself that I'd finish my Draft 2 plan this weekend and dive into the actual revising on Monday. But my typing fingers are itchy, so I'll probably get started tonight. Tally ho!