One of the biggest hurtles with writing the second Frendyl Krune book (Frendyl Krune and the Snake Across the Sea) was the time limit I gave myself--just a few months, while editing two other books alongside my amazing editor, working a day job, and going to school. My generous and understanding publisher agreed to push back the publication date from May 25 to a much more realistic July 27 when he realized that I had taken on too much. My ambition got the better of me on this project, yet if it hadn't, I wouldn't have learned an enormous amount about myself and my writing habits.
Even though I'm a huge advocate for writing every day, I struggled to feel pleased with anything I put on paper during this project, which dampened my spirits. The dampened mood for writing made me feel like my work was worthless, which furthered the cycle of making me not want to write. See where this was headed? This is what happens when writers try to push themselves to creating a flawless manuscript in the first pass, and it's also why we have editors. Deadlines changed the game for me. I went from having tons of time to create and polish my work, to feeling like (in comparison) I had almost no time at all. It didn't take long to realize that, and it also didn't take long for me to feel like deadlines were my enemy. So, instead of owning them, I avoided them, pushed aside something I used to love so I could procrastinate and not think about the tremendous amount of work I had to do--because, well, nothing sounded good on paper. It became frustrating.
It also enraged me, because I'd backed away from something I loved so dearly, something I'd fought so hard for. About a month ago, after my publisher agreed to extend my deadline, I began working diligently on Frendyl Krune and the Snake Across the Sea. As I read what I'd already written, I found I had a lot of material I thoroughly enjoyed, which surprised me a great deal, as I recalled hating most of what had come out. The draft was almost completely done, which made me wonder why I had stopped working on it those last few weeks. In truth, only about 15% still needed to be written, then I just needed to go through and smooth things over and submit.
So what had happened? Why had I felt like my work was terrible and that I was a useless, no-good writer?
I still haven't come up with an answer. All I can think of is--maybe--I became too overwhelmed with what was happening outside of the page. Still, things should have been different. Instead of focusing on little things, I should have tried to see the bigger picture. Little stuff can come later, but at the beginning, I should have followed my own advice and just written. It may sound like I'm angry with myself. Well, I am. I wasted a lot of time being scared of my work, which is just plain dumb.
Now I look at Frendyl Krune and the Snake Across the Sea and smile, because it's just about done and ready to go off to my publisher and editor. Yes, there are some major changes that need to be made, and yes, I learned a lot about writing and about myself in the process, which is why this book will go down as one of the most difficult for me. I also came to understand what's important to me... and that's writing. Writing is what helps me identify myself. I don't like to talk about myself, but I do love discussing my work. Hopefully, that will never change.
Next on my plate is The Soulless King: Part One, which is actually almost completely written (thankfully). This means I get to keep writing the other parts so I can smooth over the first third of the book and submit it to my editor in May. It's not that far off, but as long as I can keep my life in check, things will go smoothly.
Fearing deadlines is dangerous, fellow writers. Don't let them scare you; work with what you have and keep building, because sometimes, even if you don't think what you're writing is good, there's a foundation to work from. It may surprise you how strong of a foundation it is.