Featuring Jane Porter
Itís a new year, and appropriately Iím starting a new book even as I
do revisions on a book turned in late December. Iím most excited
about the new book because Iím not really writing it yet, just
thinking about it a lot, and thinking about what Iím going to write
is in so many ways more satisfying than what Iíll actually write
when I start the real writing next week.
Because real writing is hard, and the first draft of anything is far
less complex and interesting than the final version that goes to
publication. And the final draft has had so many layers and tweaks,
edits and revisions that its an entirely different beast than the
first time you sit down to write page one, chapter one.
The problem is, I forget this. The problem is, I get so excited by
the prospect of starting something new that I forget how much work a
book is, and how hard the challenge is, and how much I struggle
while writing. I forget that the rich story I crave, and the
multi-faceted characters I eventually create, donít happen right
away. In fact, they only happen weeks and months later through much
blood, sweat, and tears.
New beginnings never take into account the blood, sweat, and tears.
New beginnings are filled with optimism and eagerness, energy and
boundless enthusiasm. New beginnings are also soon met by blank
pages, blank stares, and blank ideas. As it turns out, all the
wonderful ideas I mulled over, all the pre-writing and brainstorming
donít equal real writingóthe writing where you actually write, the
process where youíre glued to your desk for hours at a time battling
for words, laboriously laying each sentence down one measly syllable
at a time. Thatís the writing that gives birth to a book, and
divides the amateurs from the pros. Discipline, confidence,
courage. I know now new starts are exciting but soon frustrating as
enthusiasm gives way to the weary realization that Iíve months of
work ahead of me. Months of concentration. Months of struggle.
Months of decision-making. Months of self-doubt.
But this is what writing is, and this is what the writerís life
requires. Determination. Discipline. And hefty doses of optimism,
along with quiet pep talks: I can pull this off. I will pull
this off. Iím right now pulling this off . . .
Itís also being willing to struggle, and to fail, and to have the
patience to start over, and go back, or rethink the
Truly, the only way to produce a book is to start a one. And the
only way to get a polished, successful novel is to begin with that
first draft, with that first burst of energy, with that first
Onward and upward, soldiers. Itís a new year, and time to kick
start that new book. Anyone care to join me?
Jane Porterís July 2006 release, Flirting With Forty (5 Spot), was
picked by Redbook Magazine as its Red Hot Summer Read before being
optioned as a Lifetime Christmas 2008 TV movie. Jane's newest novel,
Mrs. Perfect, (May 2008, 5 Spot) has also received tremendous
acclaim from her readers. www.janeporter.com