There's something you should know about me: in addition to usually not finishing NaNo novels, I also have not successfully completed edits, revisions, or changes of any kind. (I admitted this dastardly fact here.) The few first drafts I have finished continue to sit on my hard drive, stagnant, as I wring my hands over how I should edit them. (Hint: I never do.)
I titled the post this way because it's reminiscent of a baby--"my first steps", or "my first word." In some ways, though I've been writing for ages (as pictured above), I still feel like a baby in my writing journey. The reason for this is, obviously the lack of rewrites. I have good intentions, but I never actually do anything. This is probably due to the fact that I hate change with everything in me, and sometimes writing is my refuge from changes or difficult things in my life. So changing my writing?!? How ghastly! No can do.
Except, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps yesterday and said to myself, You will rewrite something.
This "something" is Because I'm Irish, my novel of 3 years. It's my soul story, the one I come back to time and time again. The first draft was started in 2011 and finished in 2012. I was only fifteen and sixteen. I was little. (Comparatively.) And as such, my writing style has changed and grown so much now, at the age of eighteen. When I look back on Because I'm Irish, the writing needs an update to where I'm at now in my writing journey.
I've known this for a long while. I had good intentions of editing BCII as soon as I finished it. But fear stopped me. Time and time again, I was terrified. What if I mess up what made me love it in the first place? What if I make it too different?
I wrote about this in Courage to Rewrite, where I asked you lovely blog readers to tell me how to rewrite something. (I'm clueless, I tell ya.) One comment in particular stood out to me, from my dear friend Lauriloth. She said,
I promise you, when you rewrite Because I'm Irish you're not going to lose the heart of it. Because rewriting isn't blowing away the magic, it's dusting off the grit to let that heart shine brighter than ever. After your rewrite, Because I'm Irish is going to be something even grander. You're probably going to get discouraged...a lot. Rewriting is overwhelming work. But just hold on to that love of your novel and keep trekking through. Because if you love something, you're going to want to make it beautiful. And that's just what rewrites are for. [read more]These are the words I held onto when, yesterday, I finally started rewriting BCII. (!!!)
Yesterday, after finishing Lost Girls, I just kept writing. (I wrote a total of 6,045 words yesterday--say what?) I worked a bit on my story Metal and Bone, but at the back of my mind the whole time, I was thinking: I missed Fiona and my characters so much during NaNo. Maybe it's time?
In the end, my friend Caroline gave me the advice I needed to hear: You literally just have to start writing.
After finishing Lost Girls yesterday, I'm starting to realize that half the difficulties writers face are related to our mental state. It takes a conscious decision: I am going to finish this novel. I am going to rewrite this novel. I will. I can.
Now, after all the mental stressing I did, I've realized: beginning to rewrite BCII wasn't so hard. All I had to do was choose to not listen to the tiny voice inside me telling me I couldn't do it. All I had to do was choose to rewrite, because I want to give this story my very best. All I had to do was just do it.
So here we go, with my first rewrite ever, on a story I love from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. It's been a long time coming, and I'm so excited. At first I was worried, but Lauriloth was right--dusting off the grit to let the heart shine better than before is worth it. I already see BCII shining clearly, and I have my vision. I know where I'm going now.
It probably won't always be that way, and I'm still terrified. But, as they say in The Princess Diaries, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you'll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey."
I've allowed myself to make the journey, and it feels marvelous.
So if you're where I was for the past three years, don't worry. The fear you feel is normal, but you don't have to stay there. You can do this. Your story needs you, and together, you can make this journey from first draft to published novel.
As you rewrite, remember the saying, "Little by little, one travels far." (It's true, especially in rewrites.) Also remember the words from Galaxy Quest--"never give up. Never surrender."
But most of all, remember this simple slogan:
You can do it. I believe in you! And my growing second draft and I are with you in this together.