At any time, if I’m not sure what I want to say, I just start writing, and eventually the pen glides easily over the paper. At least for me, this seems to help “prime the pump.” Then later, finding a different way of saying something, or adding more to the picture, can give me an “aha” moment. I was once told in a writing class to not cross anything out while writing a first draft. They also advised us not to write longer than two hours, because you need to process the information you’ve written and let it percolate. Ideas for improvements could show up later that day, or in the following days.
It took several tries for me to write Twist of Fate. It started out as a memoir, but that didn’t work. Because I had so much travel in it, I felt like I was giving readers a tour. And that’s not my story, although journeying to foreign countries was an important part of it. So I decided to focus the story on the characters, and go into less detail about the landscape. I realize this way of writing doesn’t appeal to everyone. And that’s okay. It’s my story.
While reviewing my second try with the memoir style, an editor told me that certain events had to happen before this and that. She said it was a great story, but needed refining. By this time, I’d written over one hundred pages (twice), and I decided to rethink the whole process, and approach it from a different angle. I took out a lot of the travel, or used it as backstory. I removed several characters that didn’t add to the story, and weren’t really necessary. Who needs all those extras?
This new approach took another two tries by long hand before I was happy with it. Then I went to the computer and started typing. Now as I typed, other ways of making a sentence better would appear. Sometimes I would continue typing it as it was, and other times I would stop and use long hand again. Since this book is a memoir, I didn’t want to change a lot of it, but I had two separate journeys going on at the same time. I didn’t know if I could reconcile them without the story appearing disjointed. Somehow, I managed to pull it off, but don’t ask me how I did it. I just went with my soul. In fact, I would say my soul wrote a lot of this book. And sometimes in writing that’s all that’s supposed to happen.
So all in all, I wrote out my book at least four times. I had it edited three times, and proofread twice, by some terrific people. It took longer than I thought it would take: about ten months. All I know is everyone’s writing is going to be different because we’re all different. We come from various backgrounds and experiences. And guess what? It’s okay. My advice for aspiring writers is to not stop writing. Write even when you don’t feel like it. Write even if the only thing you write is about is the weather, or nonsense stuff. Deep inside you is a story dying to get out. And millions of us want to read it.
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