What a wonderful week it has been! So many great things have happened, not only with writing but also in everyday life.
For a start, we got some more snow, which is always nice for an Aussie who hadn’t snow falling until recently. I also walked on a frozen lake! I won’t lie, I almost needed new pants after that experience and was so scared the entire time, but I’m glad I did it. The kids didn’t care, they ran out following their father, walking where he walked just like he told them to do. Me…. I was panicking the entire time and my husband thought I was joking. It wasn’t until we were back on actual land that he realised that I was actually scared and not having a joke. Perhaps it was the look of instant relief that made him realise. You see in the movies it always goes like this: person walks on ice, person feels ice cracking beneath feet, person cannot get to shore in time, falling into the icy water and getting trapped or dying of hypothermia. Apparently though, that’s not how it goes in real life. Those who grew up around snow and ice, have some kind of sixth sense or something, they know when it is safe to walk on the ice and where to walk on it and they also know that there are plenty of signs before the ice breaks, giving you time to get back to land before falling to your watery, icy death. How was I supposed to know this though? I am the Aussie who went on a snow trip as five year old, saw some snow, but never falling snow. I am the one who has trouble walking on snow unless it is freshly fallen, the one who is struggling not to slip on their arse while the husband and kids just walk on like normal.
Now that I’m sure all of the experience snow lovers are laughing at me, let’s get onto the topic of today’s post and the reason why I’ve used the word “gestation” to describe the development of a novel. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen this:
Yes, that’s right! For one whole month, I kicked procrastination in the butt and stuck to my word-count goal! I know what you’re thinking, it was only for one month, no big deal, but for me, someone who always finds an excuse, it was a pretty big deal. I met the word count, plus a little extra, as well as did some research and brainstorming for later parts in the story.
I went to bed that night (well morning actually, it was 2 a.m.) feeling a huge sense of accomplishment but realising how much further I still had to go. If I am to get my first draft written in the time frame I am hoping for, I have another 9 months that I need to stick to my word-count goal. I joked with myself, thinking that’s how long it takes for a baby to be born, then it dawned on me… writing a novel is sort of a bit like a pregnancy. You spend the first part hoping you’re doing everything right, but not knowing what it’s going to end up like on the other side. The first draft is the gestation period- the pregnancy. At the end of that, it’s like you have a new born and what do newborns do? Eat, sleep and poop, that’s basically it. What do you do with your first draft? You let it sleep for a while, you realise that,
“The first draft of anything is shit.”
Now before you get all up-in-arms and think I’m some sort of baby hater (I have three children, if I really hated babies, something went wrong there), I’m not saying that babies are shit, I’m saying that’s what comes out of them and more often than not, that’s what your first draft will be. Then you begin to edit – a lot, rewrite and edit a few more times – this is the “eating” I guess. You edit and rewrite and edit some more, bringing your story out of its infancy and helping it to grow.
My focus at this point is the gestation of the novel, to get out that first draft no matter how rubbish it might be. I’m not concerning myself with perfecting the grammar and punctuation, because not only will that take time and cause me to lose my momentum in telling the story, but that’s what editing is for! Not so long ago, I used to edit as I wrote. I would reread a chapter as I finished it and edit it before I went onto to next. By the time I got to actually writing the next chapter, what I wanted to write was lost and I forgot where I was heading.
“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” -Ernest Hemingway
I have learnt a lot about myself and my writing in the last few years, I have began to learn what works for me and what doesn’t, but I still have a lot more to learn. So for now, let’s focus on telling the story, getting it out and letting it be born. Then later I suppose I’ll worry about the rest when it’s time.
So to my fellow writers, keep writing and to book lovers, keep reading. For the world is full of great stories, stories that take you to different worlds,places and times. Some are already written and some still waiting to be born.
Read on below for a little sneak peek of József trying to prove himself to Anna.
“You see, I shared with you my hopes and dreams. I’ve never shared those dreams with anyone, not even Apa. I was afraid you see. Afraid that people would laugh or think it was silly, afraid that they would tell me to be realistic. But you didn’t laugh or tell me I was silly or tell me to be realistic. Instead, you asked if you could be a part of my dream, you asked if it could be our dream, our American dream, dreams of hope and perhaps one day, dreams of love. Maybe one day it won’t be just a dream and if that day ever comes, I want to make sure that you will be there to share that dream, together, the two of us.” -József
An excerpt from An Anguished Heart by Katherine A. Kovàcs
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