I’ve written other things since the first book of course—even I’m not that obsessive—and everything that I have written has helped me learn something new.
Being twelve when I first sat down to write novel number one, means that my organization was off. Really far off. First of all, let me say that in trilogy form it worked in a circle (the beginning of book one was the end of book three) and there were possibly five hundred flashbacks between the three books. I knew they still weren’t quite right.
So, I did what I do best: I rewrote them again. My catchphrase is: “My life is rewrites”. I am the person all my writing friends turn to and laugh when they feel like complaining about the number of rewrites they’ve done. This is my thirty-ninth rewrite. It is also my final rewrite before I send it off to a professional editor to be looked at for substantive editing, line-by-line editing, and proofreading.
Why am I willing to do this now, when I wasn’t years ago? Simple: It is the best I can make it without professional help. When I reached college I started taking writing courses. I took courses in poetry to help me learn how to get rid of clichés and write succinctly, short story to help me figure out how to make things clean and clear, and science fiction/fantasy to help me take what’s standard about my genres and make them fresh. I also joined online genre specific writers’ groups and had a roommate who was a writer.
However, what has helped me the most is being a part of a manuscript class and small group where no one writes (or even reads) in my genres. They don’t know what is normal and what isn’t, so I’m forced to write in a way that’s clear even to those who haven’t grown up devouring spec fic books. They think about things differently, looking at my books the same way they would a mystery, a romance, or a war history. They ask questions about things my former groups simply took in stride. After two years with them I can finally say that I will be sending my baby off within the year and it feels good to start letting go.