Much like parenthood, the craft of writing comes in stages. You have the initial desire, then the passionate conception of the idea, the period of gestation where you plan and write, possible miscarriages ending in crumpled papers or crashed hard-drives, and then eventually… hopefully… the birth of your labors in the beautifully assembled manuscript that you will proudly name and present to the world. Even from there, like a child, this product of your soul needs further guidance… raised into view by diligent marketing and faithful promotion. Like parenting, it is truly a beautiful and rewarding process, sprinkled with self-doubt and pride, as well as moments of both anxiety and joy. This has been my experience in writing, anyways.
Many of you may be familiar with my published work as the author of educational adult coloring books, how-to books and short stories. What you may not know is that I am also the author of a novel yet to see the light of day. A project that has been at my side, a determined haunting of the pen and mind for many years.
Around ten years ago an idea hit me like a bolt of lightning, the conception of a story so much larger than I could even grasp at the time. I did my best, laying the groundwork of what I did not know would become my magnum opus, writing devotedly for nearly a year. However, fate was not satisfied with my efforts at this point and saw fit to destroy the work. A sad miscarriage of my computer’s hard-drive erased all that I had written. Needless to say, I was greatly discouraged. I didn’t have the heart (or the money for a computer) to try again and so I abandoned the work for a time. The story, however, continued to haunt my thoughts, determined to find its way onto the page and into the world.
A couple of years later, I bought a new computer and began again. Surprisingly, I found myself happy that the earlier work had been lost, as the idea had since evolved into something even better, richer for the steeping that it had done. And this time I was wise enough to back up my work on a thumb drive…. Or so I thought.
After reaching around 200,000 words, my computer got a nasty virus and was fried. It was another year before I could afford a new computer, and sadly discover that the thumb drive I had so carefully protected until then had also been corrupted. Again, the work was lost. I wanted to give up. At one point I even wondered if this story was meant to be written at all, and thought that maybe this was all a sign to let it go. But, with every rebirth of the work, I realized that this was not a sign but rather a massive call-to-edit. “You can do better!” The great editor boomed as he incinerated the work before my eyes yet again. And I did.
I didn’t work on the story for another year or two, but the story stayed, stronger than ever in my mind…evolving, changing, growing. I began again, this time finishing 500 pages of the three-book manuscript, 1/3 of the project. I backed up the work in so many ways that there would be no loss… But life did still throw curve balls at me to stall the process here and there. And so, the story remains unfinished as of yet…. but is happily back in progress. Hopefully within the next few years I can finally share with you all the story that has haunted my dreams for so long.
Ultimately, I am thankful for the ups and downs of the process. Thankful even for the massive pitfalls along the way. Time and rewriting has brought so much more depth to this story and I feel like it has evolved into something so much more amazing than I originally imagined.
Anyways… , in thinking of Mothers Day tomorrow and how I could relate that into a blog about the craft of writing, I thought of this novel project. The trials and tribulations, the excitement and joy, the self-doubt and perseverance that eventually culminates into something greater than we ever imagined…. Just like parenthood!
Happy Mother’s day! And Happy Writing!