Friday, July 1, 2011

Forgive and Forget

This post is very personal to me as a writer. I had the idea for my first manuscript when I was a junior in high school. My good friend, Tara, told me she was writing a manuscript and I figured it'd be fun to try.

Fast forward to today, roughly seven years later, (I think) five drafts of the manuscript later and a bunch of frustration, reviews and criticism swallowed, I've been able to write an outline for a new WIP.

It took this long because, as a critique partner...cough...Steph, asked, "Is Bond of Darkness really the only manuscript you ever want to write?"

After she hit me with that question, I realized that it wasn't the only thing I WANTED to write, but the only thing I was ALLOWING myself to write. I had already invested so much time with my protagonist, the world, the magic system, and the story that I just wanted it to be done. The fact is that I was doing the project wrong all this time. I never actually sat and wrote an outline. I never planned any of it.

Bond of Darkness started as me just writing and making shit up as I went. First draft done. Me, naive. I start querying. I get a bunch of rejections. No surprise there. After I start doing some research behind manuscripts and whole business of publication, agents, editors, etc., do I really start getting into writing. I can see it becoming a hobby.

Then comes the time where I sunk into that seven year period of only working on Bond of Darkness. Because I never wrote an outline and only continued to edit on top of what I had already written -- keeping what I liked and revising what I didn't -- I was making it worse.

Again, fast forwarding to about a week ago, a new idea for a WIP hits me. Out of left field (left field being me sitting in church with my parents one morning). All of the sudden, I need to get it written before I lose it. I pump out an outline in a week's time and the euphoria began. I hadn't had that feeling of having a new project to be proud of because I was always working on the same thing. Different versions, but the same thing.

After I completed the outline, I discovered that I was attempting something I never had. I was breaking out of my writing shell. I had always written adult themed. The WIP is young adult. I favored male protagonists with an edge. My WIP protagonist is a timid female. I wrote strictly in third person. The WIP will be first person.

While I will return to Bond of Darkness with a plan, I'm thrilled to say I'm working on something new. FINALLY!

Do you have any stories of WIP triumph? What setbacks have you experienced that you were able to overcome?

Peace and Writing Love,



  1. You weren't a Junior yet. =P I started the summer we met, after my Freshman year had started. So, into my Sophomore year, wouldn't that have been the end of your Junior year and the start of your Senior? You know, since you are two years older than me. =P

    <3 Tara =)

  2. Not really sure. I estimated. Let's say a really long time ago.

  3. It is one of the most difficult concepts to accept as an aspiring writer; but the first novel usually turns out to be the "first novel." The experiment.

    That's not to say it will never be published; or that it isn't worthy of consistent revision. It's just the "idea" that kicked the writer into becoming an author. Like the first child, the first novel is the learning experience. Its what the wrriter judges their progress by.

    Revise when you learn new things; edit, cut, add. Yes, query; until you also know its the experiment you work out all your writing skills on. Not pretty, b/c that first novel isn't dead. Ever. It is the first inspiration for everything that comes after.

    This is a lesson I recently learned that I'm passing on to you JW. I've loved the concept of Bond of Darkness; and the exerpts you've posted. Can you sustain that excitement through the entire novel? I don't know, cuz I haven't read it entire. But JW, you need to believe in the concept of the novel, if not the fact.

    Put it away for a while. Don't forget it; don't give up on it. See it as your inspiration. Start something new, something different, but the same. Write what comes to mind, even if it is inappropriate to the context of the current WiP. Continue until the flow fizzles, then figure out where it fits. On its own, or within a previous works.

    While the writing of a novel has to follow a linear progression, the writing journey can take any number of twists and turns.

    Don't limit yourself to one project until its completion; and don't think you have to follow that shiny new idea to its ultimate fruition. Free flow whenever it hits and however long the writing session.

    Proof; my short story Scent that is about to be published in An Honest Lie Vol 3 is a compilation of about 3 separate writing prompts. Reading through my notes one day, I somehow put the differing concepts together in one story; and it sold.

    You're not a "one hit wonder" Justin. Don't put all your creativity into one novel. Just because a character/concept is inspired by your one true love novel doesn't mean they have to be included in only THAT novel.

    Go, go, go, Justin.


  4. I've only attempted one manuscript so far - the one I am currently revising. I have self-induced setbacks in the process - if I don't like how something is going, I tend to walk away instead of pushing through. At one point, I was stuck in the same spot for nearly two months.

    I often wonder what will happen if this project doesn't work out. Writing requires such a time committment, and even though I'd like to keep going, I also wonder how much time I can continue to invest in a hobby. I'll always write, but I'm not sure I'll be as dedicated or consistent down the road. I like to think I will be, but I also know I'll have some decisions to make.


"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.