I actually liked them.
No, that does not mean they were shiny and perfect--I promise you, they weren't. In fact, they need a lot of work. But that's actually what I liked about them--crazy as that may sound. Because what I could really see in those rough chapters was:
I know what I'm doing this time.
As all of you now know (thanks to my post last week) it took me a while to learn how to write KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES (*coughs* twenty drafts *coughs*). But through that hellish ordeal I learned something important: How to write a book.
More specifically, I learned how *I* write a book.
- I learned my drafting process. How I need to overwrite and cut back, because that's how I surprise myself with unplanned scenes that add so much to the story. Even though it means I end up throwing away thousands and thousands of words.
- I learned how to really listen to the characters and trust what they're telling me--even if it totally screws up all my plans.
- I learned that I can find a solution to any problem I come across. Sometimes it doesn't come easy, but if I think it through and keep at it I will figure it out. There's ALWAYS an answer.
- I learned that it's okay to let the early draft be a mess. To keep pushing forward anyway and deal with cleaning it up later, once the whole story is in place
And I could see all of that reflected in my first few chapters. Sure, there were lots of places where the writing needed some polish or trimming, and the characters were already starting to steer me a few places I hadn't planned on going. But... that's my process. And I can see that this time. I can see where the strengths and weaknesses are, what's working and what isn't, and what I need to do. Which is the most important thing I learned throughout those twenty drafts.
I've learned to trust my instincts. Sure, those with a sharper eye than me (*waves to Laura and Liesa*) will ALWAYS catch important things I miss. But... I also know what I'm doing. I know the process I need to go through to write MY books. And as long as I know that, I can do it.
Which is probably the best piece of advice I can give any writer. Figure out how YOU write. Sure, craft books and other writers can give you pointers. But in the end, that can only tell you how THEY write. You need to figure out how YOU write. Try different things. Figure out what works for you and what doesn't. And once you find your method, stick to it and believe in it.
That's what I'm doing, anyway. I'm wading back into the muck of book two, believing I'll find my way through if I just keep pushing forward. Here's hoping I'm right! Bring it on Book Two--I am CONQUERING YOU!