I’m going to go out on a limb and say the majority of people in this world think writing a book is a big deal. Even for those of us who might have completed sixty- or eighty-page research papers or theses in our time can see than creating a cohesive 200- or 300-page work is an accomplishment.
And it is. But if I’ve learned anything about writing—and more importantly about getting that writing published—it’s that writing a book is a whole lot more involved than writing a first draft. I am one to edit as I go, to an extent, but even then, a first draft is just that—a first in a series of drafts.
I understand the nervous energy of having finished writing a manuscript. I’ve been there; it’s a wonderful high. I also understand the feeling of impending doom that comes with the prospect of editing an entire novel. It would be easier to start sending it to friends or—perish the thought, agents—and let them figure it out. Bad idea. Really bad idea.
Writing a book is about more than typing out a single draft of a story. It’s about patience, humility, and hard work. It’s about listening to others, while being true to yourself. It’s accepting the mountains set before you, and finding a way to pass them. To write well, there is no substitute for taking one’s time and seriously considering every possibility for each scene, each exchange, each moment, each word.
If all this sounds daunting, that’s because it is. Seriously writing a book will sometimes feel like more pain than pleasure. But the best things in life are worth working for. Hopefully your book is one of them.