“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.” – Octavia Butler
I love this quote!
Because here’s the thing. We do start out writing crap. And in the beginning (as new writers) we DO think it’s really good. It takes years of writing, revising, and reading to realize that our drafts and early pieces of writing actually aren’t good at all.
But the longer we keep at it, we see that our latests drafts actually aren’t bad (compared to the ones we wrote in our early years). Maybe we just get better at the mechanics of writing. But that’s not to say that revision isn’t so important. It totally is. A manuscript may go through dozens of revisions, or years of tinkering to make it shine.
So that brings me to where I’m at in my own “turning crap into something special” journey.
I’ve written 4 novels, three picture book texts, and countless short stories. Of the four novels, one is a non- fiction business novel and three are middle grade fiction. Here’s my brief assessment of them all…
My first middle grade story: My first venture into real writing. It took only 6 months to write and revise, and I was convinced it was the most brilliant book ever written. When I read through it now, I cringe. Yikes!
My second middle grade story: This one took me two years to write and revise. It’s the one where I first found critique partners. Better than the first. Better writing mechanics, better plot, better character development, better world building, but MAJOR plot holes. Worth going back to someday.
My non-fiction business novel: Good story, interesting plot. Overall, I’m proud of this project and even more so considering I had about 6 months to write it. I include this one because the act of writing a complete novel, even if not in your normal genre or age category helps you learn to tell a complete story, with a strong plot, and fleshed out characters.
My picture books: I actually LOVE these. However, picture books are a hard sell and being GREAT at writing them requires a lot of research and reading (just like writing middle grade, YA, or adult), and I’ve chosen to focus on middle grade instead. Some day I may go back to these to really elevate them to the next level.
My short stories: I think of these as my writing practice projects. Enough said.
And that brings me to…
My third and current middle grade story: This project took me two years to write and revise. Then, another year to put it through a complete revision- again. Critique partners and beta readers have been invaluable. I believe in this manuscript—with everything I have. And that’s probably why I spend so much time polishing it up.
But it just goes to show that our writing may start out as crap, but it doesn’t have to stay that way. If we are persistent and patient, and keep working, and reading and revising, we can turn our stories into something special.
And that’s why I keep writing!
How about you? Are you doing everything you can to make your story something special? One thing that might help is participating in our August Critique Corner Round. This one is only for middle grade writers, so if that’s what you write, give it a try! The submission window is open until July 31st, so read yours through again and send it in. I can’t wait to read it.
Happy Wednesday, Everyone! See you next week. 🙂