Okay. So, admittedly, my last blog post was a bit
but I promise, I’m feeling much better now.
When I put together my timeline of goals for To the East, I planned on spending a month doing the first round of major edits and another month doing the second round, which would then leave me a third month to make minor adjustments, proofreading, formatting, etc. This is longer than it took me with To the North, so I thought I was giving myself a pretty good cushion – and when I finished the first draft of TtE well ahead of schedule, I thought I was sitting pretty.
Oh, hello Hubris. Come on in.
It didn’t take me thirty days to finish the second draft. It didn’t take me sixty days.
It took ninetygoddamnseven days.
I learned something, I really did. I learned that even though I have proudly adopted what I believe to be reasonable, realistic expectations of how this whole becoming-a-professional-writer thing will go, I’m still a moron. Sure, I’m prepared (and perfectly happy) to wait at least two years before I start seeing any consistent sales. Sure, I’m logically investing more energy into creating content than marketing what I’ve already done, building a foundation that I can use later. Sure, I’m in this for the long haul and bursting with determination.
But despite how intelligently I may have considered many other parts of my long-term plan, I failed to really take into account the most important one: am I capable of producing that much quality content that quickly? I had always been confident that I could, to the point where I didn’t even really put that much thought into it. Of course I would finish the books. It was just dates on a calendar, word counts on a spreadsheet, markers along an easy path.
Easy? Did I say easy? Did I actually think the writing part of being a writer would be easy?
I mean, to be fair (to myself), writing has never been hard for me. It’s been challenging at times, but never a chore. It’s always been fun. It was a passion, a hobby, a stress-reliever, a way to work through complicated feelings that I didn’t know how to articulate or express in any direct way. It was something I did purely because I love doing it. There was never any pressure (aside from school assignments, but even then it was minor because I was never the type to get too stressed out over schoolwork).
But I didn’t account for how different it would be once I was actually attempting to make a living at it. Don’t get me wrong – I still love it. Even when I was tearing my hair out trying to fix all the problems I created with the first draft I loved it. It will always be a passion, a hobby, a stress-reliever. But if I’d used my brain I would have realized that as long as I’m trying to make it a profession as well, it’s going to be hard work.
Fortunately, I’m in a much better place now. The second draft of To the East took ninetygoddamnseven days, but the third draft only took four. It still isn’t perfect – in fact, I’m so deep in my own head with it that I’m not even sure if I like the book at this point – but it’s fairly solid. It’s close enough that I actually have a hardcopy proof in the mail on its way to me. Until it arrives next week, I’m not allowing myself to look at a single page. I need a break.
At the end of the day, because I invested so much energy into fixing the second draft, the third one was relatively painless. Most of the hard work was done – now it was just details. And so despite my frustration, I’m actually going to publish only a couple of weeks later than I had planned.
I don’t know. Maybe if I hadn’t given myself such tough deadlines I wouldn’t have ever finished. If I had been too easy on myself I would have slid into complacency and become apathetic.
But I do think, going forward, I’m going to have to reevaluate my expectations. I may not be able to plan so far ahead in such detail for each book, and that means things may not happen as quickly as I’d hoped. But as I’ve said, I’m in this for the long haul, and this is but a minor bump in the road.