Writing Beyond Inspiration

The sage bee is one of many Missouri native bees that I’ll be getting to know better next week.

Well, this is it! 2017 is here with its unique, yet-to-be-revealed set of challenges and blessings. I’m getting things into gear, updating my syllabi while trying to rest just a little more before reality hits full throttle next week.

On the writing end, I’m prepping for a new round of queries for The Hunting Grounds, my brilliant paranormal thriller that’s missing just one thing right now: the right home for publishing.

My autumn round of queries was not without its successes. I had some places express sincere interest and/or give me good feedback, but in the end nothing quite panned out, and that’s okay. It’s times like this that I fall back on my most reliable mantra: Trust in the fate of your novel. 

I have, of course, continued to rework The Hunting Grounds even as I query. After all, there’s always room for improvement.

Over the holidays, despite being seriously ill, I managed a major rewrite of the opening chapters. This week, I’m tackling some persistent issues with the closing scenes. Once I’m done, I’ll send out the next round of query packages, hopefully by the end of this week. (If not, it’ll have to wait until mid-January, as next week my time will be fully dedicated to learning how to identify Missouri bees.)

I’ve been reflecting today on how the flavor of a rewrite is so wholly different from the first (and sometimes second) round of crafting a novel. The heady adrenaline rush of that initial inspiration is often simply gone. Issues of mechanics and delivery come to the forefront, and while a new idea may spring up here and there, the ‘novelty’ of the novel has definitely worn off.

A lot of writers don’t like this part of the journey; they find it tedious and annoying. Sometimes it is. But in general, I’ve always enjoyed the post-inspiration rewrites. In fact, I’ve come to believe that the moment when we seem to lose our inspiration is absolutely crucial to crafting a quality novel.

For me, that cloud of inspiration immerses me in the novel. I walk with my characters and live their experiences even as I’m writing. This is not a bad thing, but as long as I’m “inspired,” the story is still, on some level, about me. It’s not that the characters don’t have autonomy and make their own choices, but I’m so close to their experience, it’s hard sometimes to see the forest for the trees.

When I throw off the rose-colored glasses of inspiration, it means I’m ready to bring the novel to the level it was meant to be. Attachment to ‘precious’ words and passages loosens up. I can cut here, tighten there, fill in the details in other places, because I’m no longer distracted by the emotional ups and downs of my poor characters, who suffer constantly at the hands of my cruel imagination.

Do I wish I’d had the manuscript in this state of polish when I started querying last August? Well, yeah, but like I’ve said so many times, at some point you have to trust in the process.

New year. New edits. New round of queries. And so the cycle continues.

Wish me luck.

2 thoughts on “Writing Beyond Inspiration

  1. I was thinking along these lines just this morning, as I head into another day of revisions on Entangled. I’m not as hard on myself during the revision stage. For me, it’s the easy part, the long, contented sigh after a good meal, or great sex. 🙂

    I don’t insist on as many hours at the keyboard, and yet I’ll often spend even more time than when writing a first draft. I find it hard to pull away from something I’m enjoying so much. I know, for some, the editing/revision process is painful, even ::gasp!:: hated. Thankfully, not for me.

    Liked by 1 person

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