With my first novella in the hands of my editor, I’ve been focusing my time on a second novel.
The idea for this story has been in my head for several years, and I’ve only just begun to get the ideas transferred out of my head and onto the page. I’ve had some conversations with my characters, sketched out some general notes and ideas on legal pads, and even written some scenes to get a feel for the proper tone. It has all helped me begin to understand the story and characters so I can begin telling their story.
The work I did on The Journey of Joseph Winter was a bit different than the process I’m following for this novel. Joseph Winter was written for my family several years ago. When I decided to focus heavily on expanding it and hiring an editor to work with me to get it published, I had a completed first draft to work with. Ten years ago, not much thought went into properly crafting it. I simply sat down and began writing the story that was in my head. So when I revisited it a short time ago, I wasn’t starting from scratch, I had a very extensive outline to work from, which I was able to manipulate and mold into something even better (I hope) than the original idea.
The process for this novel is involving much more prep work than I have given to anything else I’ve written. I know where I intend the story to go, and I have a good grasp on the characters, so now I prepare to sit and tap at my keyboard until I have a first draft. The scenes I’ve already written will begin coming together with new ideas, fleshing out the story. When that is complete, I will have my first draft, but I’ll have only just begun.
Through this process so far, I’ve come to realize that writing a first draft is only a beginning, not an end. It doesn’t have to be perfect the first time through, like I’d always imagined. The idea of that was always intimidating to me and kept me from trying in the past. Writing your first draft, and the prep work that goes into it, is simply giving yourself the block of clay you’ll need to create the story that is in your head and in your heart—a block of clay you’ll begin molding into something exquisite and eloquent.
Give yourself that block of clay.