Riding the Writing Tide

By S. C. Green

S. C. Green

Ebb and flow. That’s my writing style, a steady stream of prose for days on end to a slow painful trickle of letters a week. Then the tide shifts, and the cycle repeats. Lately it’s been more ebb than flow.

This is where I’m at. I’ve completed the first draft of Raven’s Mark. Believe me; nothing beats completing your first novel. The feeling of accomplishment overflows and seeps from your pores, I swear. I wanted to savor that high, so I avoided edits straight away under the guise of “needing to read it with fresh eyes.” Instead I took the time to start work on a second novel, unrelated to the first. Then about five or six chapters in, I started hearing the first book calling to me.

At first it came in snippets. A photo triggered a comparison to one of the characters. A glimpse of a black bird in flight recalled an event. The callings got stronger. A song from my writing playlist for that book would come on the radio, and I could envision the trailer for the movie of my book. I couldn’t shake it.

I stopped the new project and reopened my first for edits. Excited and nervous, I turned the cover page and began reading. At the end of the chapter I sighed and dropped my head.

It was crap.

Although it hadn’t been long since I finished it, I had started it two years earlier. Back when my craft was more home-ec than art studio. To be honest I sulked for a few days. Really, who was I kidding?

That’s where the Amys came in. They had read the entire manuscript and loved it. They supported me when I doubted myself. They did agree that the writing was rough in the beginning, but they assured me that my prose were so much better by the end. So with their encouragement I rewrote the first chapter and submitted it to an unbiased group for critique.

They accused me of over-polishing it. How were they to critique it, if I didn’t give them anything to nit-pick on? Granted, there’s always something someone could find, but it felt more like they were grasping at straws. So on to the rest of the novel, right?

Remember that ebb and flow thing? I hit an ebb. The responsibilities of a family man kicked in: getting the house ready for the baby, holiday gatherings, work (did I mention I have a full-time job), holiday shopping, kids, and all the other little things that don’t seem like much until you squish them all together in a small eight week window. I watched my writing time dissipate beyond the horizon.

Now it’s time to reverse the tide. I’ve taken the first step by committing to this blog, and I can feel something shift. That stack of rewrites doesn’t appear as daunting. I can hear the characters yelling from between the pages, “Get on with it already!”

So here I go. Raven’s Mark will get revised.  Let’s say by my birthday in April.  I’ll let you know next month how realistic that is.  Then I’ll shop it this summer while either working on the next installment or the story I just stopped.  The tide might have ebbed out beyond the horizon, or maybe, just maybe…

It could be the sign of an incoming tsunami.