So, you may ask, why has it taken me four years plus to get my book to a professional editor? Have I just been lollygagging around?
Well, not so much. There is one fundamental reason for the time it’s taken me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. (Bears repeating again and again.). Today’s post is about finding out.
Seven Tough Writing Challenges I’ve Faced
1. Giving my characters enough depth.
I like placing my characters against the history of the day. Thinking how John and Lucinda feel with their life totally threatened, was easy for me. Getting that into the story through character development was much harder.
2. Choosing the points of view.
Some critics told me I could only have one point of view but that doesn’t work when the story is complex and chapters follow first Lucy, then John, and sometimes other characters. I had to gain the courage to do what I thought was right. Besides most of the great historical fiction I’ve read over the past thirty years uses multiple POV so, I reasoned, my idea was right on track. Getting the courage to go with my ideas was hard, though.
3. Keeping the middle from getting saggy.
Sometimes I got a little bored writing the middle as I had to keep the history in mind and seemed to run out of ideas. Well that is what revisions are for, isn’t it?
4. Gaining the confidence to listen or not to listen to critics.
I’ve run the gamut from friendly readers telling me the work was perfect, when it wasn’t, to readers who read and write historical fiction, which background gave them a platform for really insightful criticism. There were those, unfortunately, who gave foolish comments. Sorting out the wheat from the chaff was a skill I needed time to learn.
5. Building a social media platform with a view to publication.
Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as well as blogging and building my author webpage take an amazing amount of time. Both to learn and then to implement usefully. I’ve been at SM for five months now and still have lots to learn. The blogging is more comfortable as I started over five years ago and then began my actual writing blog (this one) about a year and a half ago. The webpage is close to being ready. I really enjoy doing all of this social media and have loved the learning.
6. Creating a map to describe where the action happens.
Lucinda and John do a lot of traveling about in Loyal to the Crown but finding historical maps of the period is hard. What to do? Draw your own, I thought. And then have procrastinated endlessly doing the final one for the book. I have several small parts but my to-do list still reads “do final map for novel”.
7. Finding the right critique group.
When I started four years ago, everything seemed easy as I sat in my wonderful home office and worked at my own pace, blissful in my ignorance. Now I have found my awesome critique group, most of whom are published novelists, and all of whom offer honest and helpful suggestions. Of course it has taken me four years to be ready to listen to these gurus. Seems there was a bit of me changing that had to happen along the way.
The journey has not been easy. It has been joyful, frustrating, rewarding, exciting, and time-consuming. Put that last in big bolds! Now I await my excellent editor’s comments and long for the final product.
What have your toughest writing challenges been? Do you ever wonder if it’s all worth it? Consider leaving a comment with your point of view.