Trust the Process

Trust the process” is a slogan used by fans of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers, though it has since become popular elsewhere in sports and culture. Coined during a rough patch for the team, it basically means “things may look bad now, but we have a plan in place to make it better.” – The Urban Dictionary

So yeah, the Sixers looked bad last night, but this isn’t about basketball.

Writers have rough patches, too. Maybe your work in progress is stalled. A project that started out with great potential fizzled the further you got into it. Perhaps you wrote your plot into a an unfixable mess and have to trash the whole thing and start over. You know what? This is the process. Working through all of the ups and downs, the mistakes and the disasters only makes you a better writer on the other side of it. That is of course, if you stick with it and trust the process.

The other day, a friend of mine who has been reading through all the Bucks County Novels sent me an email. In it he praised the first three books, loved them, in fact. But when he got to the fourth book: Tainted Inheritance, he noticed a change. Sloppy editing, spelling and grammar errors, a plot that dragged. He actually said he was thinking: “C’mon, wrap this up, Meg.” And you know what? He’s absolutely right.

Tainted Inheritance is my NaNoWriMo book. It’s the primary reason I will never, ever write like that again. I was so tired by the end of that marathon of writing that I avoided revision and neglected to have it professionally edited. And the result is a substandard novel. Now to be clear, I do think the overall story is good, great even. I just need to clean it up and pass it along to my man Kevin for editing. But the fact is, I do not have hurt feelings or wounded pride at the critique of my friend and fellow writer. Why?

There are differences between having a reader not like your book because it just isn’t their taste and having them not like it because it was badly written. I am not going to rewrite my story to satisfy someone else’s taste. However, if a reader genuinely points out an inconsistency, a flaw with the concept or some other sort of error, I am more than willing to accept the criticism and revise accordingly or apply the advice to the next project. I try my best to learn from the experience. And ignore the people who are just negative because they are mean.

This is one of those cases where the reader gets it. Valuable criticism and feedback are gold for a writer. It only makes us better if we listen and apply. Trust the process. It always works.

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Meg

Here we are on the last day of November. For those tired souls who participated in National Novel Writing Month – congratulations! It’s over! I did not participate this year, but instead set the goal of revising my completed manuscript for publication. I am not sure what happened to my time this month, but I’m sorry to say that I barely even made a dent in the job. Besides the introductory section I posted recently, I have accomplished absolutely nothing!

Nevertheless, I am still going to attempt to finish so as to publish before the year is out. If it seems a little quiet around here, you’ll know why. I’ll be in the subterranean lair, feverishly editing away…

“They want me to NaNoWriMo… I say, no, no, no.”

Today, being the first day of November, is also day one of National Novel Writing Month. For the last several weeks, my email box has been filling with correspondence from the local Bucks County NaNo group, the national organization and other assorted promotional advertisers for the event. I’m not buying into the hype this year.

Last year, I participated in order to kick start the fifth book in my novel series. I’d written a few hundred words, had the basic plot outlined but hadn’t made any progress beyond that in months. I managed to come close to the 50,000 word goal by the end of November but the story was far from finished. In fact, here I am one year later, still working on it. It never took me this long to publish the previous four books. So much for NaNoWriMo.

Nevertheless, I am going to use the month as a deadline for the revising and editing of the book. I am giving myself 30 days to make the changes to the story, proof the grammar and dialogue, read aloud for awkward sentence structure and double check for timeline inconsistencies. Then it goes to my editor for final approval before loading to Amazon and CreatSpace for publishing, hopefully before the holiday season.

That clears my desk for 2017. Bring on the new year and a new start to another novel! Brace yourselves for more WWI history posts.

By the way, the first of November and it’s still green in Bucks County… Weird.