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All that Honeymoon Glitter Ain’t Gold

Who doesn’t love the thrill of a new adventure? The sparkling passion of a new romance, challenge of a new job or even just a new cool movie in the theaters. I’ve found the same in so many areas, including writing. There is an exiting novelty of a new story or character. More often than not, a story idea is never as brilliant as it seems when it is fresh and earth-shaking.

Don’t know about you, but I drive my Husband nuts with jumping between projects. And yet I’ve met some writers with far more “open books” than I. When I first started writing, revision was the last thing I wanted to slog through. I was enjoying the adventure too much to be bothered. Writing was going great too, flowing easily. One book blossomed into two… three… four.

Regardless of the wordcount or bookcount plowed through in this stage, I think we all go through a similar dreamy phase as a writer. Many of us who have strayed deep into the process still go through cycles of it – sometimes I think I hold my breath, forcing myself to push through a tipping point, hoping that any minute I’ll break through into another round of that stage again.

It’s a honeymoon stage, where things are fun and exciting. Words seem to flow easily and time flies. People love this stage, and it’s what pulls them in. So many people with the coolest book idea, who start writing fly through pages or chapters and it’s going great.

But just like a young couple back from the honeymoon… the illusion of perfection wears off, and they start to realize the flaws of their beloved and the hard work of living day by day weighs down their steps. Life and reality crowds in. Outside duties, like family, housework, day jobs, and bills crowd out the daydreams.

Most writers never survive the death of the honeymoon. The partial draft collects dust far faster than words. Or what of the lucky ones who managed to make that stage last enough to finish one or more books? Are we any better off? Maybe… maybe not.

My early stuff had absolutely no hope of any respectable future. They were in dire need of drastic revisions. Sure, I had multiple books already written, but after so many overhauls on book 1, all those sequels are totally obsolete. Years of work – hundreds of handwritten pages (along with hundreds more pages of notes) could be thrown directly into the recycling bin.

Yep, brutal. When one comes to that point – when the story struggles or seems to dry up all together, or the characters just aren’t co-operating – what do we do?

Well, for some people, the answer seems to be to start a new book! Seriously, that stage of writing is so great, so addictive, that it’s really tempting. And doesn’t it make sense? Dump the dud plot or stubborn characters and start fresh with something with more potential, right?

I know I’ve fallen for it, time and time again. More than in books, I do it all over my life. My computer is filled with half-started word and excel files – homeschooling plans, time management, menu planning and hundreds of random “cool ideas” left to smolder and fizzle on the pile, forgotten as I move onto the new. Half done sewing projects and sketchbooks of half-baked attempts that I lost interest in because they weren’t turning out as flawlessly as I envisioned them. It’s easy to walk away when it gets tough or the projects take unexpected detours through uncharted mists.

I know from personal experience how tedious revisions can get after months or even years of going over the same scenes, over and over. Stuck in that, who doesn’t wonder if they might just be going in circles or spinning their wheels without ever getting closer to their goals? I certainly wonder and worry sometimes. I aim for ideals, all the while wondering if I’m truly capable yet of reaching them. Fears of comparison and competition hang heavy as I try to create a place and platform in a market crowded with similarly talented and aspiring dreamers. Is it possible for me? Is all the pain and suffering worth it? Or am I simply going about it all wrong?

And yet…somehow I stuck with the Blade of Dreams series and with writing. I eventually got serious and forced myself to go back and do the stuff I didn’t want to. It didn’t really get easier either. After I committed myself to revising, then I faced the intimidating submission package. *Grrr* I long ago lost count of how many attempts I have made at blurbs and synopsizes, all on the same book. Nope, the honeymoon was definitely over.

But the amount that I’ve learned from pushing through – the skills I’ve had to pound myself against…priceless.

Meanwhile I watch people start over and over and over again, hoping that this time it will work out. But do you want to know the irony I see watching from a distance and from honestly looking at my own writing? In most cases it’s not the books or characters – it’s us, the writer. They have different faces, different names and trappings, but in most cases I’ve found that we get hung up on the same issues. Stories lose steam at the same basic spot or stage or we make the same fundamental mistake.

It takes stark honesty to see the connections. Some times I simply couldn’t see my problem until I blundered forward and could look back. I’m learning to see my weaknesses – the ones that have followed me from story to story.

Amazing how it adds up - 22 carats of gold dust found in Texas, starting price $27,000

The “honeymoon” only glosses it all with the glitz and glamour of novelty. I remember trying to pan for gold at one of those tourist sites. How many people envision the golfball-sized nuggets and would toss out a pan of glittering flecks, disgusted? Even if you find a major gold vein in the mountains, how much work remains in pounding out the impurities in order to produce what the common man envisions gold?

One very expensive sugar cube...

The same is true with gems. We are so used to seeing the polished, sparkling cut stones. Some images of raw gems I’ve found in science books are so different, I doubt I’d recognize one in the “wild”.

In the end, I have decided that there is no perfect draft, no perfect idea, no perfect submission package. Just like us, they are flawed. However, when we do the hard stuff – the stuff that most give up at – we grow. One of my Husband’s favorite quotes is:

That which we persist in doing becomes easier, not that the task itself has become easier, but that our ability to perform it has improved. ~ Ralph Waldo Emmerson

In so many ways, I’m not sure that it’s so much the potential of the initial idea or that one is better than another. I believe most of the quality comes through the natural evolution – of the project, and of ourselves.

So, have you finished something? Are you building your dreams?

Or just chasing them?

About Ren Black

Part-time novelist. Weekend artist. Full-time Mother. Ex-poet. Perfectionist by training. Compulsive researcher sporadically. Prone to fits of linguistic commentary Unorthodox Renegade occasionally. Sarcastic by habit... Dreamer Always... Consider Yourself Warned

7 comments on “All that Honeymoon Glitter Ain’t Gold

  1. As writers, are we ever really finished with something? And what defines “finished”? hehehe… I “thought” I was done with a novel, but so obviously not. I am almost done with another novel…I think. Maybe. I finished a few articles…does that count? lol… Great article, Ren. So, so…SO true. 🙂

    • lol, very true. I know published authors who confess that even when they get their “finished” books, they still can’t resist the red pen. I merely mean taking the story to the next level. There is only so much to be gained by redoing the same stage over and over. There’s so much more to learn, especially in a market/business like writing.

      Thanks so much for your support, Ralene and I’m looking forward to your revising of Chevy and team…

  2. My Dearest Ren,

    Oh the wisdom that is learned in perseverance! These are jewels that cannot be passed on. They must be attained through blood, sweat, and tears. This is what one may call the polishing stage. Write on my friend, You will reach your goal.

    • Thanks mibillie! You have been so supportive to all of us on here. I agree that there are some lessons that just have to be learned through perseverance.

  3. My motto is: I’ze jest too stubborn to quit. 😉 But I get a lot more done when I rediscover my enthusiasm for a project.

    I find that breaking a huge project into smaller, bite-sized projects with definable exit strategies helps me to survive the sheer drudgery of it all. Especially if I reward myself when I complete something. It doesn’t have to be a big reward; a half-hour nap is sometimes good enough. But then, I’m over 40, and short on sleep, so–

    😉

  4. Very true, I can’t remember how many times I’ve been elated with a story just to look at it again after a couple months and think it was generic and boring. Great post.

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