Like many people, I signed on to do NaNoWriMo last year, in 2021. I actually beat the challenge, I wrote all of the words I needed and now my 'manuscript' of 110k words sits in my Google Drive completely motionless. I can't get up the energy to fix that ten-millionth plot hole that I found or that one character's consistent inconsistencies.
I keep thinking to myself: what if after all this effort, no one likes it? Or it just isn't good? The words 'what if' can be simultaneously so limiting and freeing all at once. Because at the beginning of all of this writing, I thought 'what if I could actually complete the NaNoWriMo challenge this once?' and then I did.
But that didn't automatically translate into a fully finished book. It didn't translate into a letter to an agent or to a publisher. I wonder how many books have sat by someone's inkwell and quill, pen, typewriter, computer, phone before they were sent out into the world.
How fixed should the book be before you show someone? It's a question that has haunted me all year. I don't know what more fixing it needs. I've put most of the book through an editing system, and I know that the next step is probably an actual editor. ARC readers. More editing. Deciding whether to publish traditionally or through a hybrid publisher, or self-publish. I have no idea where to even start. All of these concerns and steps could easily be its own essay.
In trying to write my first book, multiple things became apparent to me. Firstly, I enjoyed writing what I wanted to write but I was too worried about what other peple would think and would rewrite whole scenes to suit this. This was one of the reasons why I ended up with too many plot holes. I also relied heavily on my tertiary writing education (which did nothing to help me with fictional writing in reality) and also relied heavily on tropes in writing that I had seen used effectively before. I mean, probably less of the "I let go of a breath I didn't know I was holding", but think similar.
Secondly, as much as I am a mood reader, I'm also a mood writer. The high-fantasy full of world-building that I began writing, would at times have fluffy romance scenes or dark descriptions of ritualistic sacrifices. I also would just get bored or get a new idea while writing that didn't fit in with my current WIP, but could work as a hook for a different book.
Thirdly, and most importantly, no one but me really cared whether this project got finished or not. My beautiful partner asked me so many questions about my WIP, but only really when I bought it up. My friend, who I sent the WIP link to, didn't read it, despite stating that she wanted to very badly. Fair enough, it's not their WIP and life is busy. I think all of these things really needed to be learned.
I'm sure that there is way more that I need to learn, and I'm starting to think that maybe I need to work on my WIP a little more to learn more about the editing process next. But then I think that maybe I need to jump in and send out some letters to literary agents, or investigate publishers a little more.
If you've read so far in this, thank you. Mostly this is just lamenting the struggles of beginning to write. Maybe you're going through the same thing, with the not knowing entirely where to go, or maybe you've already been through this and this is nostalgic in some way. Happy writing!