I started writing creatively again earlier this year, after a ten-year break (marriage, kids, a dissertation).
When I started, my sister (who’s been at this writing thing longer than I have) warned me not to get my hopes up too high for this first story. After all, lots of highly respected authors were unable to publish their first novel. Sometimes that first novel is really just a practice novel.
When she told me this, I was secretly sure that, while this might apply to other people, it surely didn’t apply to me. After all, this wasn’t my first novel (that honor belonged to the 70 page story I wrote by hand in middle school; or maybe the 100 page project in high school, or the 600 page monstrosity I finished in college). And I’d been writing consistently–it just wasn’t creative writing.
But the act of writing, I’m finding–of being a writer at all–is a constant lesson in humility. I’m confronted on a daily basis with my limitations, with what I don’t know. This is a good thing. If writing is only an exercise in what I already know how to do, it may be good, but it will never be great. I think it’s the constant challenge of writing what we don’t know how to write that can produce some of our best work. (And it’s nice to know I’m in good company here.)
All of this brings me to my current WIP. I’m almost done with my fourth (or fifth?) revision. And while I’d be thrilled if this was, indeed, the story to launch me as a published writer, I’m also starting to reconcile with the idea that maybe that grand vision won’t happen (at least not this time).
But if all this novel does is teach me what I need to know about writing, so that maybe the second (or even third or fourth) novel is the book that isn’t simply good, but great–then that’s okay.
Right now, I’m just trying to savor the journey.
What about you? How do you feel about your current WIP? Is this *the one*? Or is this WIP about the learning journey, not necessarily the destination?