Sunday, September 26, 2010

To Finish... and begin again

I have written 36 published novels in the last 15 years and spent 5 years before that trying to get published. In that time we lived all over Kentucky (Louisville, Lexington, Versailles, Taylorsville), in Cincinnati and in Kansas City and in each of those places I belonged to one or more writers groups. I was almost always the most published author in those groups. Rarely was I the most talented writer.

I was, however, the one who actually FINISHED my projects. FINISHED meaning wrote to the end for starters, and once that had been accomplished editing and reediting and actually making CHANGES then submitting that work to agents and editors.

It sounds so simple but every where I meet with aspiring writers a theme begins to arise. They love starting work but get bored or discouraged and quit and/or move on to something new. The next group finishes the writing but then never finishes with it, they write and rewrite the same project over and over according to each new rule they hear or opinion they get. Just as likely to tank a project, refusing to listen to anyone and not wanting to change a thing. Last but not least, submitting work - it's hard, it's risky, it's humbling. But it's part of the work.

The challenge I would give to all aspiring authors today is, no matter how you 'feel' about your work at this moment (and trust me authors write each other all the times saying things like - I want to kill all my characters today or I think I'll give back my advance and get a job in retail - at some point in the process) FINISH IT.

Write all the way to THE END. Set it aside if that's your style but do not start anything new until you finish your current work in progress.

When you have done that, begin again and do the same. No matter what happens with the work, you have something then. A finished book or story or poem or article -- and that's one of the sweetest things you will ever have as a writer. You did it.