A Slave to the Manuscript

All hail the mighty manuscript.  No seriously guys, I am a slave to this thing.  Just the sight of the Scrivener icon makes my stomach flip.  So much work has gone into this thing. So much work. And wine.  And we're only at the beginning of the revision process.

In short: the revision process is where I make the mess of past thoughts and words appear to be something solid and understandable.
You're not a writer until you spend a full day with a hangover revising the junk you wrote when you were drunk.

Things people don't understand about writing a book until they do it:

  • It doesn't always fall together perfectly.  I go cross-eyed looking at my manuscript sometimes.  Is this part long enough?  Should this happen sooner?  Does the story climax too soon?  Are my characters relatable?  Is this confusing?  Did I explain this well enough?
  • There is no magic formula of success, but there is a lot more planning than you might have thought.  You have to think about tense, point-of-view, past/present, setting, length, chapter breakdown, etc. And no one can make those decisions, but you.  Shit, man.
  • You put in a lot of work never knowing for sure if you'll be paid for it.  Let's be real, writing a novel is a full-time job. And most people are writing their first novel while already working a full-time job.  The only problem with novel writing is that (unless you've been given an advance, lucky you), you're rolling the dice.  You can do the best you can, but it's a tough market and even if you do self-publish, that hourly rate is starting to look pretty dismal.  Not to be a Debby-downer.
  • You can get burnt out easily.  I love my novel, and I love my characters as much as the real people in my life.  Truth.  But yes, sometimes I get sick of them.  
  • You have to write even when you don't want to.  The muse does not always sing.  Creative juices aren't always a-flowin.  It's not all gold.  The most important part is just to write, even if it's garbage.  It's easier to clean up garbage later than pick up a dormant writing habit.  

Can you think of anything else?  Have you written a novel?  What did you learn?

Although I sound like a super whiner, I can't complain.  I'm doing it and have 50k+ words done and what was once a pipe dream is now a reality.  Twenty year old Jessica would be proud, and probably a little relieved.


  1. The longest thing I've ever written was my Master's thesis. I am a lover of Flash Fiction (stories in 750 words or less), but I've always wanted to climb the Everest that is novel writing. Can I ask, what is it about Srivener that's better than, say, just using Word?

  2. Sounds about right. I haven't written another novel since I wrote my last one (that's very vague...) and the revision process can be draining.

  3. Good on you! I'd love to be so committed to writing, but I can fully admit that I have major plot issues. All my very well developed characters just stand around in my head like kids at a 7th grade school dance. They refuse to interact and provide any kind of story line. Keep at it and the payoff will be well worth it!

  4. I would love to read your drunk writing haha. GOOD LUCK!!!

  5. Okay, randomly found your blog through some surfing, but I've just been reading a few of your posts...I can't tell you how much I admire your ambition to write WITH kids and real life!

    I felt like a 90-something page senior project required to graduate with my English degree was a novel (yeah right), but at least there was some required content to spark it. I'm always amazed that actual literature can be written without prompts! You are awesome.

    I'm excited to follow your future adventures and the novel process!


  6. Just check your blog and found this post. Great! Exactly where I am right now. I took off for a while, to do creative adventures with my artistry, but still kept writing small things--blog posts, "garbage", etc. Now the "cross-eyed" revision process is in full swing, hopefully not letting the doubts for any payback worry me. I just want a finished published book!!! My first also!


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