Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Do you remember the childhood rhyme:
Pete and repeat are sitting in a boat
Pete falls out, who's left?
And it begins again. Oh the joy.
I've gotten into the habit of responding to the question: How long did it take you to write Nightshade, with this - I wrote it between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2008.
Stop. Rewind. Let's clarify and I'm accepting fault here for any misconceptions my pat answer may have created. I wrote the FIRST DRAFT of Nightshade between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2008. I continued revising that draft on my own from January through March of 2009. With my agents from March to June of 2009 and with my editor from August through October 2009. That first ecstatic draft required a lot of refining.
A while ago I did a post for The Tenners about how not to get published. Here's a relevant excerpt about first drafts vs. revised manuscripts:
Another familiar moment in the writing life: you've done it. You've written a masterpiece! It is so beautiful and it's all yours!! In fact, you decide it's so very, absolutely perfect in that moment after typing the last sentence that you need to send it out to your dream agents NOW. Revisions are for wimps, right?
Wrong. Along with not finishing (and don't you DARE query before you've finished, and I mean really finished!!), querying too early will get you NOT published. I attended a writing conference where Jane Smiley gave a keynote. At one point she said "the first draft of what you wrote is perfect and wonderful, because you wrote it." She was being sincere and her comment encapsulated the joy that is the creative process of writing as well as the unbelievably ecstasy of accomplishment when you finish your novel. But the "perfect" is a moment for you and you alone.
You should celebrate. You did it! But you should NOT query. Think of it as a Gold Rush moment. You're alone, panning in a river and you hit it. The mother load! Wow!! That's fantastic. But no one wants your unformed lumps of golden goodness until they've been heated up and melted down and transformed into a beautiful piece of jewelry. Right? Don't send your lumps of gold out. Wait until you learn how to refine them into something everyone can appreciate.
I'm bringing this up because saying I wrote Nightshade in a frenzied four weeks is probably setting a bad example. That first four weeks was my Gold Rush moment, but months of work after that first milestone transformed my shiny lump into a finished piece.
Writing is the beginning. Rewriting brings the real payoff.
Speaking of rewriting - one of my best debut buddies, with whom I've had the joy of sharing revision chills, thrills, and spills - has a wonderful book hitting the shelves today. If you don't have Kiersten White's Paranormalcy on your radar, hunt it down in a bookstore as soon as you can.
You'll be bleepin' sorry if you don't :) It's hilarious, thrilling and glittering, sparkly fabulous. Happy Book Birthday, Kiersten!