I’ve been watching a lot of ARROW recently. For those who are unfamiliar, it’s a show on the CW based on the Green Arrow comic books from DC. It’s fantastic. Solid plot, great actors, and a fearlessness in the writing. Their writer’s room goes for the crazy, the unexpected, and the heartbreaking–I’m still recovering from the mid-season finale. Everyone on this show makes it look easy, but I know that behind it all is months of hard work, wrong turns, and scrapped scenes. If you enjoy well-done action, twisty plots, and bad ass characters, you need to be watching this show.
Concurrently, I’m in the midst of my second book. I’ve finished the first draft, done a quick revision, and had a few people read it. It’s a hot mess. I’d have more luck letting my dog walk over my keyboard. I’m frustrated and distraught that I’ll never get it into decent shape. I’m convinced I’m a fraud, a hack, a fluke. Looking at all the notes scattered around my desk, my stomach roils at the thought of tackling them and I cringe as I recall that other people have read it.
Looking back at THE COINCIDENCE OF COCONUT CAKE, I didn’t know how many rewrites I would have to do. With each revision, I had the blind optimism of a writer who thought they were almost done. I had no idea how far from a good draft I was. Ignorance was truly bliss. I happily hammered away at my keyboard. With book 2, I know that I have many involved and detailed revisions left. I can see the long slog of hard work I need to complete before the story flows effortlessly. I know the pain left to experience.
But there is only one way to a decent draft, and that’s through the crap. I have to work hard, and keep trying. I have to rewrite scenes from different angles, introduce new characters, and cut sections that aren’t working. I have to focus on my themes and polish my words. I have to change character traits that aren’t consistent, and analyze every motivation. Thinking about all of this makes me tired, fills me with doubt, and pushes me to the edge of the Pit of Despair.
That’s right, that’s a woman kicking ass on the salmon ladder.
Bonus salmon ladder gif. You’re welcome.
But there is hope. Maybe this next book will never be right for publishing, but I’ve learned with struggling and persistence comes improvement. Eventually I’ll write a book that works, and has the perfect moment that looks effortless, but took months of hard work to set up and hone. To get there, I need to break it down into doable steps. Think about working on one thing, then another. Eventually, it will come together. And believing that might be the most important part of all.
That perfectly earned moment.
And seriously folks, start watching ARROW.