A little over a year ago – early October 2012 – I got the idea for a new novel. I wrote a first drat in a feverish 5 weeks and I was high on creative energy and grand ideas. Then I started revising, which I didn’t love, but I got on with it.
Six drafts later, things started to feel stalled. I didn’t think it was as good as it could be, but I didn’t have the slightest clue as to what was missing. On June 17th – four months ago – I took it to the Write by the Lake conference in Madison, Wisconsin. And my eyes were opened, forcefully and painfully, by my group leader and the other writers in the group.
I left the conference with a clear picture of what was wrong with the book, but a million messy ideas of how to fix it. Then we moved into a new house and I had a baby and the book was pushed to the back of my head.
I tried to revise at times, but I couldn’t focus and my efforts were haphazard and uncertain. Major plot changes are necessary and I couldn’t wrap my head around all that would entail. I was lost and confused.
Luckily I have my amazing writing group and they’ve kept me honest. When Archer was three weeks old, we met in my dining room, Archer alternately lying in his swing and nursing in my arms at the table, and I forced myself to recommit to my book.
It is, right now, 91,000 words of jumbled mess. Plot lines that don’t connect. Characters who have been changed in one part of the book but still need to be adjusted in other parts. Scenery that needs to be updated to the new feel of the book.
And revising is a struggle. Unlike last year, when I had a solid chunk of time to commit to writing while Addie was at school, I now have a newborn to contend with. I write while he’s napping (for 30 minutes – 20 once you subtract the inevitable delay on Facebook), or for five minutes while he’s content to sit on his playmat. I write between changing diapers and trips to the grocery store and trying to keep Adeline entertained.
Part of me feels like if I could only just get a few solid hours to work, I could make real progress. I want to use that as my excuse. But I’m done with excuses. I’ve been working on this book for a year now and I need to put my big girl boots on and kick the shit out of it.
Novel, consider yourself warned: I’m coming for you.