From where I sit, peering down through the thick evergreens on the side of Mt. Fromme, the cruise ships that slip in and out of Vancouver’s harbour look like toy boats on a glassy pond. They move, sleek and quiet, on the waters of Burrard Inlet.
Then I ride the SeaBus into town. When I’m at water level next to the huge liners, my perception of size changes dramatically. Even the small cruise ships are huge. The big cruise ships are the size of small countries. They are like floating, vertical islands.
Word count: 395 Reading time: 1-2 minutes
Every time I start writing a novel it seems a small task: the simple telling of story. I’m sitting at an elevation of 1,100 feet, watching a story unfold on the harbour below. My last three novels, drafted during consecutive NaNoWriMo’s, took less than thirty days each.
In that short period I invented new worlds, populated them with fresh characters and manned the deck while big adventures rose, reached climaxes, and came to resolution. Pushing the small boat around the pond was light work compared to what came next.
I’m talking about revision of course. Of draft numbers one, two, three and beyond. That’s when the toy boat morphs into something much larger. With every pass, the story deepens, characters fill out and tension tightens. The challenge gets bigger and bigger.
Perhaps that’s why emerging writers need to look to proven authors for help and inspiration. Success provides lessons on what to do when tugboats turn into freighters and they’re no longer as agile and easy to turn as they once were.
- Brian Beker recommends Clean [your writing] up and make it interesting. This involves rewriting until you feel like you need a bone marrow transplant.
- Jane Austen hinted at the same tenacity with, I am not at all in a humour for writing; I must write on until I am.
- And if it all seems to be taking too long, don’t worry about it. Definitely do not rush it. Especially do not rush to self publish. Try to remember Moliére’s words: The trees are slow to grow bear the sweetest fruit.
Where is your writing now? Are you pushing a small boat around a pond? Or are you standing at the helm of an aircraft carrier wondering how you are going to get it into dock?
Picture from Wikimedia Commons: Disney Wonder by Shorelander