Please welcome Anna Elliott to our family of amazing contributors! Dark Moon of Avalon, Anna’s second novel, will release in May 2010. She recently welcomed a daughter to her growing family, and we look forward to her perspectives on juggling motherhood, writing and sanity. Welcome, Anna!
When I was an aspiring author, I spent a lot of time poring over web sites on writing (including Writer Unboxed!), voraciously reading my favorite authors’ sites and blogs–anything to find inspiration in the midst of the often discouraging process that trying to get a novel published can be. And now that I actually have a book out, one of my absolute favorite aspects of being published is getting e-mails from aspiring authors looking for inspiration in the midst of their discouragement. One reader recently wrote to tell me that hearing about my journey to publication had given her “so much hope.” I love that!
This same reader also asked for advice on a challenge that I think nearly every aspiring author faces: she was struggling to finish the first draft of her book. What was your first draft like? she wrote. And how did you have the courage to go on? Ha. It’s almost like she’s been looking over my shoulder when I’m in the throes of writing, because my first drafts are awful. Horribly, embarrassingly, hideously awful.
Writing a first draft is terrifying—and I have to say that this is one aspect of the writing process that (for me, at least) doesn’t get any easier the more books I write. It’s a bit like childbirth. (I just had my second baby, so that’s the comparison that springs most easily to mind). The first time you face childbirth it’s a mixture of excitement and fear of the unknown; the second time you know it’s going to hurt like the devil. And even after writing several books, I’m still afraid to start putting the first words down in that blank, virgin whiteness of a new word processing file—because I know just how clumsy and unpolished those first words are going to be.
So where do I find the courage to push through that clumsy first draft? [Read more…]