Stored in my computer are five works in progress in various stages of dress. (I will call them ‘works in progress’ until one of them is printed.) Some need to be dressed up, while one in particular needs to shed almost all its clothes.
My first novel took me just over two years to write. True, I am a lackadaiscal, lazy writer with a Real World life crammed full of too many Things to Do, and in such an environment, it is difficult if not impossible to find three or more hours of uninterrupted peace and quiet. If a person wants to attach blame to anything, it’s fairly easy to do. Looking back, my biggest problem was an attachment to the work. The first book was a labor of love.
Writers can be personally attached to their work. In the creative world, what flows from minds and fingers is the birthing of your very own baby. I get that. I have witnessed writers, artists, actors and others who take themselves and their craft with seriousness. They are dismayed at bad reviews and critique.
I view writing (and any creativity) with the same outlook that I have on life: I am doing the best I can, and I won’t turn away any advice. If you are so wrapped up in your work that you believe it to be perfection, you may miss a jewel coming from a fresh pair of eyes.
My first novel was excruciatingly long. At 175K words, it might be considered an epic tome. During the first pass-through edit, I managed to eliminate 8K words just by taking out adverbs. Still, it’s not enough. The story is still good, I just need to tell it with far fewer words.
On the other hand, my current piece was completed during NaNoWriMo and topped out at just over 50K. Too short — I would prefer the finished work-in-progress to end up between 75K- 90K, the desired word count for a chick-lit romance. I know I was writing as fast as I could, with storylines and ideas stored in the brain while I pumped out the bones in thirty days. December was spent editing and adding. I am currently through the fourth edit, and still a bit shy of the target, although the story is strengthening with each pass.
Which brings us to the question of the day: Is it better to have too much or too little?
From personal experience (and I’m sure other writers will agree), I’m thinking too little is easier to bear. Performing major surgery such as the type I need to do on WIP #1 is going to be brutal. This is why I’ve been able to look at it only a few times in the last year.
I’m going to force myself to wield the knife. Soon. As soon as I finish adding to my current work. I’ll remember for the next project that less is definitely more.