Writing a book is like giving birth. Although I haven’t had any experience, with giving birth I mean, I’m guessing that’s how it would be. It’s the most terrifying thing you can get yourself into, and once you’re in, you can’t get out until you’re done.
It feels a lot vulnerable to share things about your book when you’re in the phase of writing it. You don’t know if it will work out, if you will ever finish it, or if you’ll ever publish it. Writing this second book has been amazing so far, along with working full-time and trying to squeeze in a little reading, Netflix, friends and family time. My family is the one most ignored, here. Sorry, folks. I need to straighten out my priority list.
But anyway. I thought that since I have already written a book before, it shouldn’t be that hard the second time around. But admittedly, I was wrong. Very wrong. The process is as mentally taxing as it was the first time, as exhilarating, as mind-numbing, as painful but as rewarding as it was. The thing is, even if it’s not your first book, it’s your first story. You have never told this story to anyone yet, and you’re as new to it as anybody else. So it takes time, efforts and patience, like watching your new-born take its first steps.
What’s different, though, is that I know if I had done it before, I could do it again. And to write a book, that’s all you need. A story and the confidence and a will to finish writing it.
I’m still working on the first draft. It hasn’t been going entirely bad, but not too great either. But that’s the thing with first draft. You must allow it to flow, to let it all out, as good or as bad as it is, before you can go back and edit. It’s like collecting sand before you can build a castle.
First draft is usually a leap into the darkness, a blind attempt at exploring the world you think you’ve created. It’s like meeting people for the first time. You don’t know much about them, their family, their lives and you are still trying to figure out their habits, their mannerisms, how they would behave in any given situation, or how they wouldn’t. Just as it takes time to get to know people in real life, it takes time to figure out your characters.
In this story, particularly, which I’m not done with yet, I took a long time to figure out both my main characters. I dived in head first into the story, with only a thin outline of the plot, and discovered half way through that I don’t know them at all. Then, I went back, scraped the whole thing and started from scratch, only this time, with a plan. And a detailed plot.
For a long time, I put off the meeting between my two main characters. I wrote almost all the scenes about their lives that didn’t involve them, meeting each other. The main reason for it was that I wanted to know them as well as I could before I blended their lives. Now, after planning, plotting, exploring and writing about 51,000 words of this second attempt and spending more than four months with them, I think I can safely say I can imagine them as real people.
I still haven’t crossed the finish line yet, and I have a long way to go, but I’m in no hurry. After all, there’s only me who’s running in this race. So, who’s losing?