Bitten off more than I could chew?

Like our family dog Jackson in the photo above  (okay, not a great quality picture but I think it illustrates the point) I got to a place in terms of my writing a few weeks ago where I may have bitten off more than I could chew.

Since getting some editorial feedback from an american romance publisher on one of my works in progress – The Lost Weekend – last year, and receiving back my Reader’s report from the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers Scheme, I have been working on the MS to improve it. I’ve changed the plot (moved things around), added a new plot strand and worked on the use of adjectives, pronouns and vivid verbs.

I only made the changes that I thought had value and that felt right for the story, but even so, when I’d pulled it apart and was trying to put it back together, it didn’t just feel like my story any more. I felt lost. My self-confidence plummeted. I wasn’t sure what to do it with. Trying to finish the re-draft has been like wading through tar; I’ve dabbled here and there, now and then, but I got to a place where I was ready to jack it in, consign it to a drawer somewhere and never bring it out to see the light of day again. I was feeling that I’d bitten off a bit too much, been a bit too ambitious thinking that I could get a complete, cohesive and sparkling story down on paper.

But then … I put The Lost Weekend aside for a few weeks, wrote a short story in a completely different style for a competition and I read some books that put me in touch with why I love to write – because I love stories.  I can’t not tell them. Writing makes me happy, which is why I give up so many other things to do it!

Looking at the picture of Jackson, I realised that he didn’t have any idea that the branch he was holding was ridiculously big for him and that he didn’t have much chance of carrying it very far. All he needed was the desire to pick it up and the self-belief that he could. So I thought I could apply the same logic to my writing; what is important is that I want to do it, and I shouldn’t let perceived limitations hold me back.

So I came back to The Lost Weekend and skim read the chapter I’d got up to in terms of re-drafting, and I realised that Charley and Alex’s story is worth telling. Whether other people agree is another story, although attendees at the Festival of Romance seemed to think so (fingers crossed that they weren’t just being polite) and whether it is complete, cohesive and sparkling… well..

I spent two Sunday afternoons on it and I’ve (almost) nailed it. Add to that a moment of weird inspiration at 2.00 a.m. this morning about the whole book in its entirety and the audience I should be targeting it at, and I feel quietly confident that I will finish the re-draft in the near future. I will then put it away for a bit and then get it back out and give it one last draft and polish. And I realised that even if I don’t end up getting a publishing deal with this MS, I will know that I have done the story justice.

The moral of this post? Don’t give up. If you are passionate about something – even if feeling that you’ve bitten off more than you can chew – then just get on and do it. Enjoy it.

Happy writing, Nikki

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