I had every intention of taking this summer to slowly gather well-detailed notes for my new novel, Uprooted*. I’ve been studying and researching and outlining like whoa, but last Saturday, I let this story off its leash. There’s only so much planning that can be done before you finally have to start getting your hands dirty. Once I realized I was at that point, I threw my “Summer is for planning” timeline out the window and just got to work.
I’ve already written more words than any of my short stories ever had, but not nearly as many as I would have if I were writing, say, for NaNoWriMo. It’s strange how being invested in the story changes the process. For NaNo, I have always been more of a “Pantser,” just taking a premise and running with it, letting the story develop organically. It was always noveling for the fun of noveling. Given that this book will hopefully carry me from being a published short story writer and literary magazine editor to being a novelist, it’s important to me to get it right.
Of course, this is a rough draft, and I know I’m allowed to have a hefty emphasis on “rough” in the beginning. This is where my challenge is coming in: finding balance between taking care with this story versus editing as I go. I nearly scrapped 300 words yesterday, simply because I didn’t like them, but I eventually chose to leave them and move on to the next section. They’ll likely be cut, but not now. My job isn’t to tell a polished story now, my job is to tell a crappy story and buff it up later.
Ah, balance. Isn’t that a battle every writer fights in? Balance between writing and family, or writing and jobs, or writing and drinking coffee? I’m one week into writing my debut novel, and hurdles have already started popping up in the distance. I’ve got this, though. I believe in the story and I believe in myself, as a writer. We’re going to do just fine.
*If you search on Amazon, there’s already a book called Uprooted. While my story and that of Ms. Novik have similar thematic elements, I’m confident that they’re different enough that they won’t be confused for one another. Even so, it’s not likely that a publisher would let me keep my own title, so it stays Uprooted until I’m told otherwise.