Keep Writing

I’m nowhere near where I want to be, as far as my writing career goes. I have no publications, no agent, no queries floating out in the trenches. I can’t live off my writing alone (or, at all, frankly). Yet I’m also so much farther along than I ever imagined I could be, back when I started this journey when I was a wee 7th grader. And I’ve learned some pretty amazing lessons throughout, but I think the most important one is the title of this post:

Keep Writing.

For the longest time, I worked on my first novel, PATH OF THE PHOENIX. For years, I slaved over that thing. I wanted to perfect it. It was the story that was going to break the doors down for me. It had to be. I spent so many years outlining for it, I had rewritten it so many times, I cared about the characters so much, that it had to be the story. It just had to be.

Spoiler alert: it wasn’t. Four books later and I’m working on a completely new series, with PATH OF THE PHOENIX still awaiting yet another (and probably another) rewrite and editing round. At first, after two rounds to rejections on my first book, I was hesitant to write anything else. I won’t lie: it was partly out of fear that I couldn’t write anything worth reading. If I could pour my heart and soul and everything I had into PATH and nothing happened, how could I devote the same amount of effort into another story, with that dark whispering in the back of my head telling me that it doesn’t matter, you won’t make it anyway? Yet another part of me didn’t want to move on, because that’s exactly what I’d be doing: moving on and abandoning this story that I loved so much. And I didn’t want to do that. Despite not being ready yet, I knew that it could be ready someday. And it deserved more than for me to move on.

But that’s the catch. The story does deserve it. It deserved to be worked on and improved. It deserved to be told. But I couldn’t do that by sticking with it and it alone.

So I did.

Starting and completing that second book was almost more paramount than finishing that first one, for me personally. Granted, it was still within that same world, with the same characters, so I didn’t truly break away until book four, when I wrote a completely new work not part of that trilogy. Yet that second book was everything. Because it fueled the crazy desire that I have to keep writing and keep telling stories, regardless of what happens with those stories. After taking six months to write book two, I didn’t write book three until almost a year had passed, still unsure of what the hell I was doing writing stories that weren’t being read. Yet the itch was still there. I had to keep writing. I wrote book three in a little over three months, during my first ever NaNoWriMo.

And since last November, I haven’t been able to quit.

I wrote a standalone sci-fi novel that I adapted from a screenplay I wrote in college this past spring. I’m currently halfway done with the first book of a nine-book planned series, with the potential for a spin-off collection of works that I honestly have no idea how many books it would take to complete. I plan to have this book done by the end of September. For NaNoWriMo, I want to write a new novel, probably standalone, that is centered completely and unashamedly around a woman and her period in a fantasy setting, where the entire culture and way of life of her people revolves around women bleeding out of their vaginas. (I seriously cannot wait to start writing this. I think it can be a really enlightening read and I would love for it to be published just to see how our culture, who is terrified and ashamed and shuns and covers up such a natural body function that so many members deal with on a monthly basis, responds to such a topic being so focused on). And then I have another book series that I know hardly anything about, but it’s rattling around in the back of my head, waiting for me to give it attention. So many ideas. So many books.

Do you see the switch? I went from spending years attempting to perfect one book to writing (potentially) four books in one year (if you count last November to this November as a one-year time frame).

Guys, that’s incredible.

I’m not trying to gloat. I’m seriously in awe that I’m actually producing this much writing. I’m blown away at my own discipline, at my own ability to shut out those voices of doubt (which are constant) and what can happen when I truly put writing first in my life. And recently, I’ve had a few authors and editors tell me the same thing, once they learn how much I’ve written, despite being unpublished: “That’s awesome. You gotta keep writing. That’s the most important thing. Just keep writing.”

In the midst of realizing that I can write this many novels and am creatively capable of pushing on despite rejection, I’ve come across some important truths that I hadn’t accepted for so long:

  1. The first book you write doesn’t have to be the first book you publish.
  2. Writing something new after not publishing that first completed work is not “giving up” or “abandoning” that work.
  3. Even if you choose to “abandon” a story–even an entire completed book that you’ve slaved over–that’s okay.
  4. The more you write, the more you improve.

I know those points probably seem obvious, but for the longest time, I either didn’t realize them or rejected them. I didn’t want to write something new after my first book because I wanted so badly for that first book to make it. Looking back, I’m so glad it didn’t. The book I queried was not ready. The agents that rejected it were so right to do so. Hell, it still isn’t ready. But the only way I was able to realize that was to keep writing. By writing more, my craft improved. By writing more, my confidence grew. By writing more, I became a better storyteller, a better writer, a more creative and imaginative (and more dark and cruel; sorry darlings) mind.

It is so freeing to write knowing that it doesn’t matter which book “makes it” in the publishing world. It is so freeing to still fight for that dream of being published yet slowly learn to become okay with the idea that you may never be published, yet you still write and dedicate your life to these stories anyway.

It is so freeing to just write.

The best part? I can apply everything that I learned to any and all of the stories I have already written.  So PATH didn’t have the chops five years ago, when I was just starting out. Cool, that great! I know so much more now, I am better connected to the writing community and the great minds and resources within that community, that I can improve that story a-hundredfold. Perhaps it doesn’t get published, even after all of this. Maybe my fifth book is the one that opens the door. Maybe my 12th. Or my 100th. Or maybe none of them do. And that’s okay.

I have a slew of reasons why I want to be published; why I want to be read. But in the end, I want something even more: to write. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep living inside my own head, continue learning and loving these characters that grace me with their stories and I’m going to keep recording them. And I’m going to keep fighting to improve my ability to tell those stories and I’m going to keep dreaming that I’ll get to share them with you, one day, and perhaps you’ll even like them. Because I’m a writer. And damn if that isn’t what we do.

Cheers.

Advertisements

About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

9 responses to “Keep Writing

  • lightafireinstead

    You know… I really needed to read this today. I feel like that happens a lot: you write something that I need to read at that particular moment in time. 😉 I’m so happy for you that you’ve been on such a writing streak! I definitely admire how resilient and persistent you’ve been with your writing. You go, girl!! I KNOW someday you’ll rock the publishing world, just gotta keep writing until you get there! I’m still in the stage of working on my first book, but I’m revamping it so much this round of editing that it’s pretty much a new story… Sooooo I’m going to stick with it for a bit longer. I do keep having ideas for new stories, though! Your post fired up my writing mode to keep chugging through that first one until it’s ready to set aside for a while! Thanks! 🙂

    • Nicole Evans

      Ahhh, my dear, I’m so glad this came at a moment in time when you needed it most. ❤ I'm definitely glad you're still working on that story (the bit I read made me want to keep reading, so don't you dare give up on it!) Yet, in the same vein, don't be afraid to work on something fresh and new, or even try editing and writing something new at the same time! o.0 I can't wait to see your books on shelves, right beside mine. We're going to take the world by storm. ❤

  • jml297

    A great post, and congratulations not only on the output but for the evident joy you have in the writing process. You provided such great encouragement to me when I finished my first draft recently, and whilst I have been catching up on things before going back in for the edit, I’m going to follow your footsteps and keep writing, to keep moving on other projects so I’m not obsessively working on one thing (trust me, this would happen …). So a big thank you for giving me a mental shove to get on with it!

    • Nicole Evans

      Oh, thank you! 🙂 Joy is the most important part, I think. Why spend your life writing if you don’t enjoy the process? I’m so glad the blog has help you stay encouraged. That’s exactly why it’s here! I feel you on obsessively working on one project. I hope editing goes well and you find new projects to rock out to. Can’t wait to purchase your books off the shelves, one day! 🙂

  • Jessica M

    What a great review of all your current writing endeavors! It’s always so nice to see writers just writing rather than beating themselves up over their writing, or self-perceived failures, or lack of attaining high hopes, etc. etc. Your sentiments are inspiring and insightful.

    At this point in my life, writing is something I do for myself. I don’t even care to be published (well, we’ll see how long that feeling lasts), and it is indeed a liberating feeling to not have that “this needs to be in pristine condition for presentation” weight hanging over my shoulders as I write. It seems that the more you write, the more stories start coming into your head. I have more WIPs than I’d like to admit, and just too much I want to do. And so little time to do it. The desire to start the new stories is there all the time, but getting the motivation to do it (i.e. fulfill that anticipation, and risk losing that anticipation) is the biggest hurdle.

    It’s not about the success we may or may not have out there, it’s about the success we have within ourselves. And writing is a neverending journey that we willingly travel — and it is so rewarding, and so much fun!

    • Nicole Evans

      Have I creepily praised you yet? I really hope I have, because your comments are serious gems every time I read one. I love how thought out they are, how insightful and generous they are, and I just cannot accurately articulate my appreciation. So thank you. ❤

      I think it is so important to remember that, at the end of the day, we have to write for US. Not to get published, not to please the world, not to write the next bestseller, not to follow the rules; but because we're writers and we love what we do and we have stories to tell. (Also, I laughed aloud at your "we'll see how long that lasts" comment. I flipflop all the time, too.)

      I also love that phrasing you used: "fulfill that anticipation and risk losing that anticipation." Because that is such a true representation of what we deal with all the time! Also, that sentence after about success within ourselves…GAH. You just have so many gems right there in a paragraph of words. Your stories are going to make it one day, my friend. I just know it.

  • Jessica M

    Aw, you’re too kind! It’s always a pleasure to read your posts because you yourself are thoughtful, generous, kind, and insightful. You are an individual that is found few and far between. So it is a pleasure to have your acquaintance!

    Thank you too for your encouragement! I’m in something of a writing valley (bc writing fanfics is really not very serious work!) so please forgive my negativity. I think my head just has so many ideas, that it just shut itself off to cool down, you know?

    But anyways, that “anticipation” moment is what we live for, I think. Luckily, as writers, we’re rarely at a loss for them.

    I only wish you the best for all your writing goals! You will be a great one one day! Me, I’m currently happy just writing stories for fun (:

    • Nicole Evans

      Ahhh, I’m catching up to responding to your responses. Sorry it took me so long to do so!
      Of course, you’re making me blush again. Goodness. 😛
      I totally understand! Sometimes I get overwhelmed with all of the ideas I want to work on and everything that I want to do and all the time that I don’t have to do all of those things. I know you’ll be able to find the idea that resonates the most with you during that moment and run with it! 🙂
      Thank you!! And writing for fun should always be the number one goal.

Leave questions, comments or angry remarks below...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: