Three years ago, in August of 2009, I started writing my first book. It was about a city and a murder and a young girl working towards her dream of becoming a journalist. And superheroes.
A few weeks ago I started writing my third book. I like to think of it as a spiritual successor to my first book, as it contains all the same elements as above while being completely and utterly different.
What is so beautifully, wondrously clear to me as I start this new story, in this new world, is how much I’ve grown as a writer.
Also about three years ago, I started this little ole’ blog. Almost every post back then was about some new element of craft that I’d learned. I was learning so much, so fast, and my story just couldn’t keep up with the growth. These types of posts have become more infrequent these days, but it’s not because I’ve stopped learning things. Quite the opposite. It’s because the things I’m learning now are harder to articulate.
Voice. The difference between the right word and the wrong one. Depth in character, beyond questionnaires and character worksheets.
Of course, I still have so much to learn. SO much. The beautiful thing about writing is that you’re always learning. Each story is its own beast, and it’s in the wrangling that you grow.
But being here, writing this story that I’ve already attempted once, that I tried to give up on again and again, that keeps weaseling its way back in, is like making it to the top of a small mountain and looking back at all the miles I’ve trod. I have so much further to go, so many more mountains to climb, but look! I’ve made it this far, and isn’t that amazing?
Sometimes in the deep, dark depths of an unruly draft, or while forgoing hygiene to revise that scene just one more time, it can feel like you’re making no progress at all. Sometimes when the rejections just keep coming and you’re stuck in some dead end job, working nights and weekends on a goal that looks like it may never come to fruition, you wonder if it’s really worth it. If maybe you’re wasting your time.
If I could go back to past-Beth in these moments I’d whisper in her ear: Yes.
Yes, you are making progress. You are learning and growing as a writer in a thousand different ways. You can’t see the big picture at the moment, but you will. You’ll round that last corner, climb that last hill, and there you are, at the top of a mountain.
It’s been three years since I decided I was going to finally sit down and write a book. I’m not published yet. I haven’t made my goal. But there have been milestones, big and small. And today I stand on top of a mountain, looking back on all the steps I’ve taken, and reader? I’m feeling pretty fine.
I chose this picture to end the post not because it was related at all, but because it makes me smile. My friend Raech and her favourite animals. Also, Raech was one of my first ever readers. She’s been there from the beginning and she’s always been enormously encouraging to me. Thanks, Raech!