I had a great conversation with my trusted reader last night regarding the novel. The salient point was her question, “What is the story about?” One should not be on page 70 and have to ask that question. I know that very well.
I was then advised that this poor reader was having to suffer through pages of “stuff” to get back to the story she was interested in. Specifically, the part of the story that involved my main character and was truest to the original screenplay idea. I had experimented with all sorts of different ideas as I blasted out the words and it needs to be reined in.
In short, I was politely being told that my first draft was a rambling mess. You know how many times I’ve read that in print and on line? Your first draft is [insert any word you like for mess]. Don’t show it to anybody. Ever.
Some lessons you have to learn yourself. Some you have to learn over and over (like, “You’re not as great and special as you like to think.”) Of course, as soon as you overcome the desire to show everyone your “fresh from the oven” project, you have to then tell yourself that, “You’re amazing, really special, and you can make it in the impossible business.” Or you’ll never fix that horrible first draft and get the work published.
Remember those posters, “You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps”? There’s a reason that so many of the more famous authors seemed a bit… off. Not to worry though, not everyone is off his rocker.
“So what does any of this have to do with inspiration? You’re making me depressed.”
Great question. I have the answer. If you recall, I was feeling a bit down on writing in the last post. Had a great email response that picked me up a bit. Went through my 2014 Writer’s Market Guide. Remembered that Steven King, Robert Ludlum, and George R.R. Martin didn’t start out writing best sellers.
Some lessons you have to learn for yourself, but you learn them. And you improve. You can outlast those who are lucky and out-work those who are lazy.
And let’s not lose perspective. I’ve only been back in the game for about a year. In that time I’ve published a short story, written scores more, won a few contests, finished a novel length draft, written 2 feature length screenplays, a short film script, wrote and directed a promo video, wrote and directed a play, and blogged nearly every day since the end of May. How arrogant to think it’s impossible to succeed. I am doing it – and I’m not alone.
Neither are you.