Editing, the perspiration of writing.
The first draft of our first book may only take a few weeks or months to complete. Typically, the first real, honest project in our writing career will have been gestating for years. You may find that once released, the torrent of words just cannot be stopped, and you fill pages easily and fluently. This is a sign that you are indeed meant to write everything out, and that the time has come to follow through with that impulse. But before you print off your first draft and send it out to the publishers, pause for a moment and reflect.
My first book felt like a very exciting experiment: I loved the feeling of finally writing down all the ideas which had been swimming around in my head for years. Finally giving form to them felt immensely liberating. With a new project to occupy me, I felt more alive and awake than I had for many years. However, with my enthusiasm there was not a great deal of experience and I was acutely aware of my naiveté, which fed into my first efforts at to put together consistent, worthwhile material. After rewrites and overhauls through several years, I finally set that first major project to one side, and then – and this is the point – only then, did I start my magnum opus.
Getting the first two hundred thousand words out – only half of which may be worth saving and putting into some kind of order – we have well and truly launched our writing careers, but the refinement of that first enthusiasm can take years. Our first work, our first completed book – while presenting a good opportunity to be pleased – is just the beginning and may never transform itself into our best writing, no matter how enthusiastic it makes us feel personally. Many writers have launched successful careers with their second book, aware that it represents more fluent, polished writing.
(To be continued)