When I was in junior high (middle school to some of you), writing became my ultimate form of entertainment. I didn’t watch much TV and the internet wasn’t nearly as addictive as it is now (besides, I was SLOW on bleepy dial-up).
I used my mom’s old work laptop to boot up Microsoft Word and just wrote. I didn’t care about clichés. Or varying my sentences structure. Or grammar (mercifully it was something I was innately okay at so it wasn’t atrocious). I didn’t worry about keeping my chapters the same length. Mary Sues as characters didn’t matter to me.
I just wanted the story in my head to come out onto the page. I wanted to share it with my best friend. Every day, I would edit what I wrote the night before, and then draft the next portion on the lineless computer paper. Every evening, I curled up with the computer and put in my edits, typed that I scribbled between/during classes that day, and then just kept going, pantser style.
Addicted to writing, I loved the process, the work, and that big stack of papers as the end result. My life consisted solely of having a passion for writing.
I even submitted this first novel atrocity of 88,000 words to a publisher and garnered my first form rejection letter in grade 10.
Once I got to that point, I started to learn more about writing, craft, and marketing. And, from that point onward, my output fell. And fell. Just…fell. I started the horrible habit of comparing myself to others. I started to categorize pre-publication writing as being a failure–seriously bad mental move, but when one suffers from depression in teenage years, you’re kind of just lucky to make it out alive.
From that point on, I’ve had a horrific time drafting anything. Drafting is hard, tooth-pulling work. I look over my drafts after and I’m impressed when I feel some sort of resonance since the whole time I was writing, I felt like crap. I believe I have only finished two novels since that, and they are both drawer-worthy.
Since becoming a mom, I’ve learned a lot. You’ve seen, I’ve been writing some of those things down. Forgiveness is one of the main ones where I hit a point that I need to go easier on myself. And I need to reclaim my youthful passions with the inhibitions and non-restrictions I had before then.
No novel or story I write will ever be perfect. But I can do my best to imbue it with a passion and vibrancy. And I can forgive myself long enough to finish the damned thing.
So I’m trying to take a step back and remember the passion and heedlessness I had when writing initially. Lowering the bar for my initial drafts, I think back to when I could scribble up a tale without worrying about three act structure and commercial viability. I can revise a base when I have elements I love in it. I can’t revise nothing but a know of anxiety and a blank page.