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Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 Roundup: Keeping Score

I love reading everyone’s end-of-year wrap-ups and seeing how far people have come in 365 days. (Like, say, Erin Bowman, who’s given me a case of chronic inspiration with her 2011 accomplishments.) So, in the spirit of reliving 2011 before your eyes, I present my class project:

What I Did on My Summer Vacation (And During the Rest of the Year, Too)

The abridged version: I revised a book.

The long, rambling version: On Nov. 1, 2010, I had never written a book. (Well, there were a few unfinished ones in my past). By Nov. 30, 2010 I had finished a book. By the end of January 2011 I had revised a full book.

If you’re keeping track, that’s Tracey 2, Insecurities 0.

And I spent the rest of 2011 revising and rewriting. Seriously. I’d say that’s Tracey 2, Insecurities 5. The crazy thing about me not being able to push through revisions at the same speed a write is that I’m an editor by trade. I mean, I’m comfortable hacking a piece to pieces. I rarely hold a crazy attachment to my words. (Maybe I’m just pure evil and take joy in killing my darlings.) Anyhow, when it came to this book, I froze up.

The very smart and very awesome Liz Briggs made several brilliant suggestions in her critique, which made me realize I had a hefty rewrite on my hands. I’m glad I did it. The book’s about three bajillion times better now than it was in its first incarnation. But the rewrite/revision scared me. If you were in my head you’d have heard: 
You can’t accomplish on paper what you see in your mind. 
You’re a terrible writer.
If this seems difficult, it’s because you’re an idiot. 
You’re not good enough.
It took a lot, A LOT, of strength to get past that fear of failure. During the first draft, I knew it was mostly crap and could be fine-tuned during revisions. I didn’t fear screwing up because it was pretty much a given. But revising? That’s where the magic happens, where books are really made. Anyhow, I can’t tell you how I got over my inability to edit but eventually I did. I wrote more than 50,000 new words. No joke.

And even though I need to go through and revise the new section, it’s done. More than anything, it taught me that I can accomplish on paper what I see in my mind. I can write. I’m not an idiot. I am good enough.

So that’s my accomplishment this year. Some time next year I’ll start querying. And maybe I’ll have good news come Dec. 23, 2012. But for now?

I believe it’s Tracey WIN, Insecurities LOSE.

What’s your biggest triumph this year, writing-related or other?

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