1st Drafts / Writing

The SUN Finale

Goodbye, July. Hello, August. Welcome back, Sanity.

If you participated in “Summer’s Ultimate Novel,” I’d love to know how you’re feeling right now. Exhausted? Ecstatic? Relieved? Disappointed? Burnt out?

Any of these emotions are normal and expected. In fact, I think I felt them all within 24 hours of completing my first novel. To remember exactly how it happened, I dug up my old blog, the one I used before starting this site. The blog entry on January 27, 2008 said I finished my novel around midnight, after which I danced in the kitchen for awhile and wrote an “ecstatic” blog post. I was so wound up that night, it took me forever to fall asleep. Then I blogged again the next day, labeling my mood as “exhausted.” I was still relieved to be done with the first draft, but I knew the story had a lot of problems. Already I was dreading the second draft and all the editing it would need!

I did manage to write one decent piece of advice in my exhausted blog post:  “Even if this book never gets published, it was still an awesome learning experience and worth every minute of hard work. I learned so much about writing, stuff you can’t learn by reading books or by taking advice from other writers. You won’t know how to write YOUR novel until you sit down and actually write it.”

So, yeah. Don’t be disappointed if you fell short of your word count goal, and don’t worry if your first draft has problems. It’s supposed to have problems—really. At this point, the most important thing is that you tried. You took a risk. You jumped headfirst into novel-writing. You did not drown … and maybe you even found some treasure along the way.

Possible Reactions to SUN:

1. “I changed my mind about being a writer.” This could be a temporary reaction. We’ve all had moments of doubt when we’re tempted to stop writing. Give it some time … if the desire to write doesn’t come back to haunt you, then perhaps you’re not meant to be a writer. As much as this would suck, it’s better to know it now rather than later. Life’s too short for misleading dreams. Find something else that truly makes you happy.

2. “I never want to see this story again.” Okay, I can understand that. But please don’t trash it yet! You need a break from it to gain perspective. If nothing else, someday you can look back on it and laugh … and see how much you’ve improved as a writer since then!

3. “SUN was crazy difficult, but I won’t give up on writing yet.” Oh, the stubborn type—good for you! Maybe you’re more of a poet, short-story writer, journalist, etc. Maybe you would like writing novels, but this particular story didn’t work out for you. So many possibilities; just keep trying!

4. “I love my story—I want to publish it now!” Whoa, Nellie. It’s great if you still love the story, but no one can get a first draft published. Take a break from it, then start on the second draft with fresh eyes. After that, use critique partners or test readers to get feedback. Write a third draft. Rinse. Repeat. Don’t worry yet about publishing your novel. That may sound condescending, but it’s not meant to be—I’m just looking out for your long-term interests. After hearing the disadvantages of publishing too young from Laurie Halse Anderson, now I want to share her advice. Besides, you could always wait until college (or right after college when you’re broke) to try selling your novel.

5. “I don’t know if this story is good or not.” I hear ya. I think most writers struggle with this problem. In the end, all you can do is write what you love. If you’re not enjoying yourself, try a different story. If you’re still having fun with the first story, keep drafting and tinkering with it. Editing is another great learning experience. Eventually, you’ll decide to move on to something else … or you’ll decide to share your story with someone. And if you do that, you’ll get a clearer picture of the strengths and weaknesses in your novel.

Remember to clock in with your final word counts if you want to qualify for the SUN contest! I’ll announce the winners next Saturday. At some point, I’ll be talking about the next project we should tackle, so stick around for that.

Congratulations to each and every one of you—I am so proud of your accomplishments!!  *cue balloons, music, and confetti*


11 thoughts on “The SUN Finale

  1. A note about #1 — you can feel like not wanting to write ever again and that still wouldn’t mean that you don’t want to be a writer. I think sometimes that can be a temporary feeling.


  2. Okay, this is a good point, so I went back and edited the original #1. When I first wrote it, I guess I was thinking more about long-term responses than temporary.

    At some point in my life, I wanted to be a vet. I actually worked for a vet for awhile … but when watching a surgery made me light-headed, I knew I’d never be a vet. I still respected vets, but I had to settle for a different career choice.

    So I guess what I’m saying is … if writing nauseates you every time you do it, maybe you shouldn’t pursue it anymore. LOL. Seriously though, writing is not for the faint of heart, as you know. If you can do anything else, you should, because it’s crazy and stressful and usually low-paying. But if writing stalks you and won’t let you go … then what choice do we have??

    Thanks for catching my mistake though. I needed to clarify my meaning. 😀

    • You were definitely on track with the sentiment but I can just imagine myself ten years younger and going through a challenge like this and never wanting to do it again. Heck, I kinda felt it at my age. I guess my point is just that writing is not an instant-reward/gratification type hobby/job. If you love writing then yes, maybe after you’ve pounded out 6000 words and your fingers are cramped yet you feel giddy. But I think that there’s a whole nother type of sastification from writing that doesn’t happen until much later in the game, unless you write fanfic. But who does that???!!!

      • Fanfiction?? OH, the humanity!! Who would resort to such methods?? *nervous eye twitch*

        You’re right (as usual)—writing is not always instant-gratification. I get one kind of SAS-TI-FICATION (snort) from finishing a story, and quite another from getting good feedback from someone who reads it. In fact … I hardly ever find writing instantly satisfying. At that moment in time, I’m probably thinking, “Jeesh, this sucks.” Later on when I reread it, I might get some gratification. Writing has its highs and lows, and some days I wonder why I try at all (okay, a lot of days). But in the end, I can’t fully give it up!

        Man, I could turn this one topic into a big fat blog post. See, this is why I love your comments!! 😀

    • How did you go from never commenting to commenting ALL THE TIME?? Who are you, and what have you done with my friend??

      ROFL—I love it!!

  3. Word count: 38,420. Eight days behind, because of the trip. Not gonna worry about the word count, though, besides it’s close to 40,000 anyway, so I’m satisfied, but not yet done. Still working to finish it. 🙂
    Love ya!

    • WOW! I’m amazed by your persistence. You could’ve easily given up, after losing the eight days … but you didn’t! And really, 38K words in … 22 days? … is a great accomplishment! I love that you’re still working on it—bravo!! Keep it up, woman!

      *hugs and love*

    • Hey Sav, you don’t know me, but I feel like I know you a bit. Erin talks very highly of you 😀

      So I’m also cheering for you 😀 I am honestly very impressed with what you’ve accomplished!!! WAY TO GO!

  4. Hey sorry I’m checking in so late. My total word count as of now is 39, 484 words, though that’s after this post, so it was really about 900 words less than that. But anyway, I’m planning on trying to quickly finish this week, but I don’t know if that’ll work. If it’s God’s will, it’ll happen eventually. Love ya, Vicki

    • Better late than never! 😀 Thanks so much for checking in—I know you’ve been busy with life and writing! And I think it’s amazing how you’re still writing and trying to finish (if it’s God’s will, of course). I’m so happy for you!! WOOT!! Love ya!!

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