As I sat down to write this blog post, I realized the title is all wrong. It should be ‘The Things I Learned About Myself After Completing My First Book’. You see, I’m a published author, but my first book that came out in print is a poetry anthology, a collection of 61 famous love poems and which doesn’t sound like a lot to my own mind because last two years I have spent writing my upcoming literary mystery ‘Tied to Deceit’. But as it will be publishing in a few months (June 2018), I decided the title of my post was apt.
Writing my novel was a gruelling process: I forced myself to sit down and think: write, cut and edit: rewrite, some more edit, and cut: rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite until I took my manuscript to 130, 000 words and then some more painful cuts, rewrite, edit until I took it back to 85, 000 words finished manuscript. It was exhausting.
Writing a book is a gruesome process…just on its own. I did all this while taking care of my household chores and two young children and managing a move to a new house in a new city. All this makes me feel extremely proud of myself because there are not many people who can do that. I have always been a haughty person, but now I feel awesomely good about myself, I feel proud. And that’s quality of someone who is pretty smug? Isn’t it? Writing does that to you.
I’m tough, and I know how to deal with pain…
By the time, you finish your first draft it should be a time for celebration, a few days’ work left to get your manuscript ready for publication. But that’s not how it happens. After I had finished celebrating and jumping up and down with excitement, the time arrived when I had to start polishing my manuscript. As I started working on more edits, I realized I have to part with some of my best written words: I’m not talking about just a few lines here and there: I had to cut whole paragraphs, full chapters.
Imagine you are in love with these two chapters but to continue the story, one has to be taken out. Your creations, the words you spent hours working on has to go. That’s awfully hard. It breaks your heart. It is painful. But you do it, despite everything. You learn you are one tough cookie: you are strong.
If there was one thing, I had understood about myself before I decided to become an author ― I knew where I stood on a specific matter. I could make up my mind in a jiffy, take a decision, and stand on it (For as long until I take a new one and overwrite the earlier one…at least!). I had no patience with people who take days to make up their mind about something. I constructed a plot, formulated it based on one idea about the story, and despite temptations on the way, I stayed single-minded.
But after I finished my book, I learned I could no longer be proud of my ability to take quick decisions. I have ‘Tied to Deceit Final Edits no. 1 to Tied to Deceit Final Edits 27’…yes! 27 copies of the manuscript sitting on my hard drive (I’m not counting the other 8 first drafts). Now don’t imagine number 27 is final for me. Number 27 is the one, when I decided enough was enough and sent the copy to my editor for copy editing/proof reading. Every time I read my manuscript, I cut, edit, rewrite. The most bothersome thing is I will continue to feel the urge to do so even after the book comes out in print in June of 2018 (At least there I know where I stand!), because that’s how I feel about my poetry anthology as well. So yes, I learned I’m one of those confused people who never can make up their mind about a particular thing. It was a revelation!
After I finished writing my book and put up another one for publication, I took to social media and announced my newly achieved author status to the world. I put my writing up in front of others, shared the thoughts I had in my head and bared myself to their scrutinizing eyes. And that, in itself, is courageous.
I know how to take rejection…
Writing is a gruelling process. Completing a book is exhausting. But the hardest part arrives when you start making queries to literary agents (The times have changed. The publishing house wouldn’t consider unagented queries). You are proud of your work. You think your book is awesome. The agents tell you the same (few of them who care to reply) but they have to let you go because they already have their hands full. You are rejected…again and again. I learned I could take rejection gracefully. Their rejection failed to make a dent in my infinite creative ego which stayed intact despite everything.
People are too sensitive and I’m wickedly awesome…
After I had started sharing my writing (not my book-related) on my personal social platforms, I learned I couldn’t put another word on paper without hurting someone’s sentiments. Imagine yourself proudly announcing your LGBT inclination in front of a LGBT rights opposition activists or vice versa. There are people who will object to all of your opinions, your personal beliefs, your thoughts, and troll you if they differ from theirs. Fighting back is easy but staying silent and not let it bother you is difficult. I learned I couldn’t care less about their opinion.
If you are a writer, and you have worked tirelessly on your manuscript giving it your best shot, you are awesome, but I probably don’t have to remind you that because you already know it😊
Neena lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband and is a full-time mom to her two children and a daring German shepherd.
Neena has compiled ‘YOU left me, sweets two legacies:Famous Love Poems’, a collection of 61 famous classic poems under her pen name Avira N.
AVAILABLE AS E BOOK & PAPERBACK ON