Ya'll, I am beside myself with joy.
Last January (as in 15 months ago) I started putting this idea I had for a story down on paper. It was slow, and hard at first. And it scared the crap out of me.
But I was doing it. The words kept coming. I would type 28 pages and throw it all out except for two sentences. But it was encouraging, because I was finding my voice. Finding my characters. It took me eleven months to finish the first draft. Then I let it sit for two months, picked it back up, and tore it to pieces.
I threw out scenes. I added scenes. I deleted characters.
I started reading blog after blog online about writing. I learned what made good storytelling. I fanned out index cards with scenes and evaluated them. I trusted my little story to three people--my lovely first readers!--who read it and gave me feedback. It felt polished-ish when I gave it to them but it wasn't. It was changed a ton, not so much in story, but in the telling. My writing has gotten better. Scenes are fuller and emotions fleshed out and dialogue crisper because I've spent months doing my homework and applying it.
For example. At first I would write something like this:
Susan shut the door and then went into the kitchen.
See that "and then". You don't need both. Just one. "Susan shut the door and went into the kitchen."
Or dialogue tags (he said/asked/exclaimed, etc)
Jane furrowed her brows. "What do you mean?" she asked.
You don't need the "she asked" We know it's Jane talking because we mention her, and the sentence itself is a question. Dialogue tag = unnecessary here.
Little things that seem inconsequential, but when you run rules like that through an entire manuscript, it's amazing what they do. I've gone through my manuscript twice now and applied edits. I've cut nearly 4,000 unnecessary words.
This last read through I did left my heart so giddy. Because I think now the story is actually (lean close so I can whisper)...good.
It always had the potential for good for me. But it wasn't quite there. And now? Oh, I'm proud of myself. The story is cohesive. The writing tighter and stronger than I ever thought I could write. The story may not be the best, but it is mine, and it has come to life in a 325 page thing that has worked its way into my heart and shaken me alive.
Writing has been so life giving. Finally, finally, I have found something that makes me come alive and that makes my soul whisper Yes, yes. This.
I have no idea what will come of this. I would love to get it published and live inside the hearts of other people. I would love to create stories and rewrite and remake them a thousand times over every single day of my life. I have fallen in love.
As of now, I think this little manuscript is done. Finished.
Maybe some day you'll be able to pluck it from a shelf and skim your fingers over its pages. It would delight me to no end to share it; to let this little thing I've breathed life into for months and months flutter through your brain and heart and leave you feeling...something.
Here's to hard work and hope and maybe, just maybe, the start of dreams come true...