When I think about what I’ve accomplished so far, what I originally set out to do, and the long journey awaiting me after Thanksgiving break, I end up thinking about the roadblocks that were placed in my way. Sure, I tried to get ahead this summer by not only writing some of my novel and editing what I had previously written, but I wrote most, if not all, of my college essays and supplements. Little did I know that no matter how far ahead I worked, no matter how much time I spent over the summer making each and every sentence of my essays into gold, that I’d still end up spending plenty of my senior fall focusing on work I had started over the summer. My final college essay and all of my supplements went through maybe 10 or 12 drafts each. And yet I sit here, wishing I could have devoted those countless hours to my novel. Where could I be now if that had been possible? I try to stop myself from thinking about it because, though I have made progress on my novel this year, I haven’t yet reached the point where I originally wanted to be at this time. Why? Well aside from the aforementioned onslaught of college work, as well as other schoolwork, cross country, and other commitments, it’s been because of editing.
Yes, editing, the bane of any writer’s existence. I have, without a doubt, spent more time editing my novel over the past two months than I have spent writing new material. However, to be fair, when I began my independent project at the beginning of this year, one of my primary goals was not to write the best novel ever written, but to gain a better understanding of the literary process and craft. Well, I can honestly say that the understanding that I’ve gained so far is that editing is the biggest and most time consuming part of the process. You not only have to be willing to accept and use the criticism of others on something you’ve worked very hard on and put a lot of emotion into, but you have to cast a critical eye upon your own work over and over again. Though editing has been a royal pain, my novel is all the better for it.
Aside from editing, one of the most important parts of my process so far has been world building. World building can be relatively simple, yet still difficult, when you’re writing a novel set in the modern world. But when you’re really creating your own world, even just a super messed-up version of our world (as I have done), world building is as tedious as it is tiring. It can be fun to begin with, to play around with an idea and assess its viability in your world. But when you have to think through every single detail, from specific types of clothing to what types of technology would be used by a nomadic group of hunters after the collapse of modern civilization, it becomes laborious. However, I’ve found that world building, through activity, has expanded my creativity and has made me view possible set pieces and plot points with a much more analytical eye.
Finally, as I face the end of the semester, I begin to think about how I’m going to reach my goals. Originally, I had wanted to write 100 pages by the end of semester one. I realize now that that goal simply isn’t realistic. With my editing and world building powers more refined and ready for use however, I think I can reach at least the 70 pages mark by mid-January. It will take a bit of discipline and a lot of extra hours of editing, but I think it’s completely possible. With no more college essays to write or cross-country meets to go to, I can finally concentrate my efforts on the defining piece of my senior year.
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