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.