I finished my first full draft of my first full book in December of 2015. It was 22,000 words. It was 22,000 words of blood, sweat and of course, lots of tears. It was the longest thing I had ever written and it was so, so beautiful.
Well, it was beautiful to me. In actuality, it was awful crap like any first draft. But this was especially awful, because it was a baby writer's first attempt at creating a living breathing novel and instead it was a bunch of words on a page, with very little character development and a wonky plot.
I revised. I read books about craft and I struggled to add more words to this bitty baby book. I added characters and scenes and finally took it as far as I knew how to on my own. It was now 30,000 words.
And then I met a mentor who took me under her wing and with great love, showed me how to turn an itty bitty baby book into a grown-up (well, okay, middle grade) novel. And under her guidance I took that itty bitty baby book and completely rewrote it. And now it is 41,000 words. And exactly one year after that first itty, bitty, mewling 22,000 words were typed, I began querying my first novel with agents.
Today I am working on my second book. In about two weeks I've managed to scrape up about 10,000 words and I'm just entering the second act. DO YOU KNOW WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT? It is important because this time around as I write, I'm aware of plot structure. I actually know what a second act is and THAT I AM ENTERING IT. As I write, I'm careful of too much stage direction, too much dialogue, not enough reaction beats and pacing. I am thinking about my main character's emotional arc, her inner and outer journey. And my first draft isn't going to end up a meager 22,000 words.
In short, I am writing like a writer.
Is this book easier? Oh. Nope. No, writing it is still full of blood, sweat, and tears. And joy. Of course. But I'm writing better. I'm writing smarter. I'm writing with craft in mind instead of just purely to get words on paper. And that excites me.
Like anything in life, practice makes perfect. Well, maybe not perfect, but you can't really shine your behind off if you don't practice. Seeing where I started a little over a year ago to where I am now fills me with a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. No, I still don't have an agent. Or a book deal. But I have a great novel that I love and am proud to have written. And I have the belief that I can, and will, write many, many more. And that is a really fantastic feeling.