“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are going through it now or you're just getting out of that phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” -IRA GLASSI was a nieve thirteen year old. I thought I had the best ideas. I thought I knew all the answers. I thought I was an amazing writer. When I read this quote (above) two years ago, I thought "oh, cool. I'm just getting out of that stage!" Sorry to break it to you, thirteen year old Megan, but no, you were not.
In 2011, after I had only drafted one novel (which was poorly written and horribly plotted), I got this idea for a new novel. And I was like convinced that it was the best idea ever. People kept telling me that it was such a cool idea and I was like "yeah, I'm awesome!" In the first couple weeks that I got this "great" idea, I wrote somewhere around six chapters. I sent some of it to a blogger I knew and asked what she thought. You can imaging how shocked I was when she emailed me back and encouraged me to make some changes and rewrite because the characters were too perfect and the plot was confusing. I was upset about it for a while...until I realized that she was right.
So I started over from the beginning. I started learning about writing. I read loads of books. I decided to make sure the plot for this novel was completely lined out before I tried writing. I did extensive work on the characters, making sure they weren't shallow, perfect, or unbelievable. I wanted this novel to be perfect, because it was still the best idea I'd ever gotten. I kept rewriting the first chapter over and over because I kept finding flaws in it. And I just couldn't get past the first chapter. I honestly wasn't the best at writing (I'm still not), and it was frustrating me that I didn't have enough experience to write the novel I wanted to. So I put away my folder full of ideas, notes, and plot lines and said that I'd take it out again when I was older and a better writer. I started writing other novels. But I really didn't want to write them. I couldn't write the novel I wanted to write, though, because I felt like I was wasting my one good idea on my horrible writing skills. So I kept taking these huge breaks from writing.
You know those late nights were you get a crazy idea, convince yourself that it's amazing, but by morning you're laughing at yourself because it's actually the stupidest idea on the planet? I had like a two year long night where I believed this idea was the most amazing idea ever and I was never going to get another one like it. And recently, I haven't decided that it's stupid, but I have realized that it's not the only good idea I'm ever going to get.
Sometimes I feel like I'm only ever going to get one good idea and I burn myself out because I feel like I'm not good enough to do the idea justice. So I don't work on it. I do nothing. [there's a really good video by MeekaKitty on this here.] But the truth is that I'm not only going to get one good idea. I can write this story and if it's not the best thing in the world, that's okay, because I'm growing. And if I'm growing, that means the next thing I do will be a little bit better than the last one. Because when I'm afraid to write something because I don't feel like I'm good enough, I'm just going to get stuck because I want to write it, but I can't. I can't come up with anything else and I can't work on anything else, because I'm stuck on this one idea. I just need to write the story I want to write and not worry about if it's perfect or not. I can edit and rewrite as many times as I want, but I just need to get the first draft done.
So, I guess what I'm saying is that I'm writing a novel. And I'll maybe (probably? possibly? (i.e. this is a really big maybe)) self e-publish it when I'm done. And it's actually like 5 novels.