the answer is very little.
The plot was giving me fits, so I’ve taken a step back in order to allow it to flit and flutter around my mind freely for a while, something that does not come naturally to me, but which I picked up from Ann Patchett’s incredible memoir on writing, The Getaway Car. I’m also participating in two fabulous writing groups who are going line-by-line through Novel #1 (aka The Novel that Won’t Die). I’m editing the living stuffing out of it (literally…it’s half the size it once was), and in the process, thanks to these smart, talented readers, I’m learning so much about how I write and what I can improve. And cut. (And cut. And cut.) What’s incredibly gratifying: at this point, I’m able to see the changes that need to be made before being told (for the most part). Simply put, I’m learning, and I haven’t felt this much growth in my writing development since earning my writing degree.
Which leads me to say: if you’re serious about great writing, it’s so important to surround yourself with great writers. Two (two!) past writing group members (and women I’m lucky count as friends) signed damned impressive book deals this year, Tanya Byrne and Cristin Terrill. Having a front row seat to their success inspires, thrills, and enforces for me that I’ve chosen my writing colleagues (can I still call them that?) wisely. How do you surround yourself with people serious about their craft? You write, and workshop, and write, and work tirelessly, and trust me, you’ll find people doing the same.
What I’m learning from this current editing experience with Novel #1, I’m looking forward to applying to Novel #2. Because while #1 may be the flavor of the month, I still believe in #2 more than ever. And little sister novel is going to benefit big time from big sister’s growing pains.
If you’re working on a long-term writing project, I’d love to hear what keeps you motivated and improving!