Within hours of starting work on Draft 3 of my current manuscript, I had gone from the high of having completed a second draft, to the disheartening realization that my manuscript was far from being a final draft. Five pages into Draft 3 and already I had crossed out, moved around, and re-written nearly every word, or so it seemed. My draft was covered in edit marks.
Discouraged, I complained to my husband how frustrated I was. In response, he asked, “How many storage bins of drafts are in the basement?”
I thought it was a strange question to pose at that particular moment, but I answered, “Five.” One bin for each of my five previous novels, each bin filled with multiple manuscript drafts.
He asked, “How full is the storage bin for Winona Rising?” Winona Rising is the working title for my current manuscript.
My answer: the bin was practically empty. Only two bundles of papers were inside–Draft 1 and Draft 2. I laughed. Perfectly, my husband had put my progress into perspective. My current manuscript didn’t yet have to be at the level of a final draft; there was still a lot of space in the storage bin to fill.
Attempting to accomplish a big, complex project with a grueling process and a lengthy timeline requires constantly checking in on your emotions and assessing their validity. It’s okay to have emotions (you’ll have lots during the process of writing a novel), but if you let your emotions own you, especially the ones that hold no validity, then your writing will suffer as a result.
It’s understandable to lose perspective, but it’s important to regain it, and to regain it quickly, so not to waste valuable time moaning when you could be writing. Admittedly, it helps to have someone in your life who understands your artistic process and is an avid supporter. Sometimes, we could all use a little reminder to be a little kinder to ourselves.