Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

IWSG June: Stuck in a three-year loop?

The first Wednesday of the month, brings the IWSG blog challenge: To share our thoughts with other bloggers about writing, to encourage, to reveal our own struggles, and to support each other -- each of us with our own writing goals and progress (or lack of). 
Some months, we dive into IWSG's question. Other months, we wrestle.

June 2 question: For how long do you shelve your first draft, before reading it and re-drafting? Is this dependent on your writing experience and the number of stories/books under your belt?

Aargh! I'm wrestling, for I don't shelve that first draft, unless some calamity has taken over my life. Instead, I read, reread, ponder, make notes, print out and make notes, talk with my writing partner, make more notes, reread . . . and write and rewrite. 

Alas, I'm a slow writer. I can sprint through drafting; my typing speed is up there enough to jam a typewriter's keys (back in the day). Typically, three years mark the beginning and end of a writing project, despite my best efforts to study and apply different strategies to become more prolific.

For example, on today's walk up to the pond, I found myself wondering if my heroine, Moira, has really revealed how much she misses her absent husband. What would she tell herself? What does she regret most? What are her fondest memories -- and why? That will preoccupy me for the next several days of revision.

Maybe the 'shelving' period occurs when I send that 'draft' off to a beta reader. But, by then, I'm feeling finished with the story and ready to start planning the next.

How many novels I've written (so far five) doesn't seem to affect when I stop revising. Can you tell I'm more of a recursive writer, returning again and again to see what works, what's missing, what could be better?  At some point, the ending seems to resonate with the whole story, and I'm finished -- and ready to let go.

I'm looking forward to what others say in response to this month's questions. Even as pandemic restrictions ease up, and spring rushes into summer (in the mid-60's last week; today the 90's), we still need courage and tenacity and a clear vision to achieve our goals. 

May your writing go well and each day bring you something to cherish!

Thank you goes to the co-hosts for the Insecure Writers Support Group's June 2 posting. These generous writers read nearly all of this month's posts. Why not visit and see what they're thinking about? J Lenni Dorner, Sarah Foster, Natalie Aguirre, Lee Lowery, and Rachna Chhabria!


Grandkids at an Oregon Beach (May 2021)

18 comments:

  1. Hi,
    I like your attitude. This is how I feel. I write and the timeframe or how long it stays on the shelf I don't worry about. What I do think about heavily is whether my words are affecting my readers.

    Wishing you a lovely month of June.

    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

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    1. Thank you, Pat, for your good wishes and for saying this so well. Does the story involve my readers! Does it move them to understand something new. Kind of like a long meditation. And June? It has to be better than last June, right?

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  2. I am trying to figure out just HOW I actually do write. I have a difficult time knowing when the story is finished. Every time I look at it I edit, add, or change. I feel as if the story has to be pried out of my fingers and set free to soar. Thanks to my writing friends I eventually do let go.

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    1. Thank you, Sandy, for reading and commenting! That sometimes is a mystery -- when do we say, "The end!" You have so many stories to tell. We just have to get better at saying, the end!

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  3. I like to revise a lot too. And I'm a slow writer. I really don't enjoy writing the first draft as much as revising. I wish I had as many completed projects as you.

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    1. Hello, Natalie. Nice to know I'm not alone! I'm wondering if you outline as you draft (or before). Don't worry about the number of projects -- believe me, they'll pile up! Best of summers to you.

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  4. My revisions have always been project and deadline oriented. No deadline, no pressure. A calamity is exactly what happened after I finished the first draft of my novel in 2019. Hubs died at the end of 2020 and now, I really don't care about that book at all. But, I've started a new project and I'm really pretty excited about writing again. It's all good!

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    1. Congratulations, Lee, on finding that new writing project that excites you and for continuing to write. My husband has faced some serious health issues this year, and I worry about him, cherishing each day we have. Maybe one day, your healing and good memories will cause you to take another look at that book that's languishing in a drawer. May 2021 be a very good year for you!

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  5. I'm a slow writer, too, so it's hard for me to put something aside. I feel like I'm already taking too much time to get it done.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Sarah. I'd say, trust your intuition. Some stories take longer than others. You might ask is it the story or reader reaction? In some ways, editing/revision to strengthen the story is the easier challenge! I almost have stopped worrying about taking 3 years for each of my stories!

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  6. I go back as soon as I'm finished. I just have to.

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    1. Nice comment, Alex. Made me smile. Generally, I can't really work on more than one project at a time. Or take that long to celebrate when it's complete.

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  7. I also often revise as I go, so my first draft is not exactly the 'first.' But then I need a distance of time to come back for some serious rewriting.

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    1. Interesting, Olga. I try hard not to revise as I draft, but the English teacher in me keeps checking commas or subject/verb agreement even when I'm drafting. Darn. But you're right. The serious revision requires focus, time, and more time.

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  8. Hi Beth, I'm glad to meet a fellow slow writer. Which is why I'm writing most of the books in my series before I publish the first one. I don't want readers to wait 3 years!

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    1. Hello, Denise! I agree fully with you, which is why I wish I wrote a little faster. Readers shouldn't have to wait! But, we are committed to writing our stories and keeping promises to our readers. So, perhaps each book published builds that reader base, eager for that next story. Actually, reader comments led me to work on Book 4 in my series, entirely unplanned. Slow but steady, forward we go.

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  9. Hi, Beth!

    Nice to make your acquaintance!
    I tend to write with a need to get home before I run out of gas. Once home - or at least at a rest stop - I rest before unpacking. Like you, my thoughts remain on the story. Did I describe the gas station just right? Did I leave Elmer hanging at the diner? Will my readers understand why? Before long, I find I'm revising as I go so as not to worry if I've left a window open at home ;-)
    Happy writing!

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    1. Hello again, Diedre. Yes, your process leads you quite easily into revision, despite wondering if that window is left open! Sometimes I wonder, though, how the experience of being closed in during pandemic changes how we approach our writing and revising -- even when the writing goes well.

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