Welcome back to Three Things Thursday! After such a long break, I’m eager to share what I’ve learned in the past few months.
You Can’t Rush This
In the beginning of 2015, I had the goal of publishing two books this year. One was already written and needed a beta reader and professional edit. The other had a half written first draft. Twelve months seemed like plenty of time to complete both goals with time to spare.
In March I ran into a development roadblock with the first draft, so I doubled down on the first project. I was determined to get it out by end of summer. The year was almost half over and I had nothing to show for it. I knew something was wrong with the MS, but I powered through, thinking that it would all come together in the end. I only got one beta and she helped as much as she could, but there were some deep flaws that blinded both of us. It was the first time I used someone I knew in real life as a beta and I think I need the stricter hand of a stranger. Strangers are much less forgiving with mistakes.
June brought a whole bunch of health issues and more pressure than ever to get something…anything done. I sent the MS off to my editor in early July and spent the rest of the month hopping from one doctor appointment to the next.
Last week, the editor returned the MS and it needs a shitload of work. What my inner editor handwaved way, she found and commented on with gusto. I tried to rush and ended up with a hot mess. It was a very expensive mistake that I won’t make again. Which leads to the second lesson…
Don’t Chase Trends
The forementioned Hot Mess was written years ago. It was one of the first pieces I finished. I kept it on the sidelines waiting for the perfect moment. When Marvel started cranking out blockbusters, I was just finishing up Angel’s Awakening. Hot Mess had to wait. The Hot Mess is a superhero themed book and I knew it’d be a perfect fit with all the superhero movies and TV shows popping up all over the place. I wanted in on that and forced the Hot Mess to happen when it wasn’t ready. It’s one of the easiest pitfalls to stumble on in self publshing and I kick myself for making such a rookie mistake. Fortunately, I have an awesome editor who respects me enough to keep me from embarrassing myself in public with a substandard product. The Hot Mess will see the light of day. Eventually. When it’s ready. Respect the audience, not the trend.
You Do You
In the end, I realized veering away from my process doesn’t work. I’m not a fast writer. I need to do a lot of head work before one word is written. I need time for these imaginary people to become real. With Angel’s Awakening, Charouth is so real to me, I randomly drop into bakeries for some baklava (Charouth’s favorite snack). I feel Azazel’s energy and rage when watching MMA fights with Mr. Man. The characters are real to me and that helps make the story come alive for readers. I didn’t have that connection with the Hot Mess and it showed. I won’t put it out there until those characters live inside me like Charouth, Azazel and company.
Maybe, with more books written, this process will take less and less time. Maybe I’ll get better at ignoring the inner Puritan that says one must produce, lest be thought lazy. Whatever. I’m glad for the lesson learned. Soon I’ll have another book out there. When it’s truly ready, and not a moment before.