Saturday, October 20, 2012

Chicken by Chicken: A Horrendous Book

Hi folks, I hope that you have dedicated yourself to the work. This week I'm  continuing my series called Chicken by Chicken. I'm riffing of a fine writing book title by Anne Lamont called BIRD BY BIRD. You must write at least one horrendous book to write one very good book. I know, this is daunting news. Who wants to write  a horrendous book? You must write a book that is full of telling, plot holes, weak characterization, and way too much description or not enough. Your book will be a slog to read. You won't like it. It will discourage you unless you are an eternal optimist. It will be very hard to write this horrendous book. You will sacrifice to do it. When you complete it, you will feel you have climbed a mountain. It will  be a rush and most people around you will not "get" your enthusiasm. You will put the book aside for a few weeks and avoid it like a scared chicken. Then one day you will pick it up again and realize just how bad it is. Ouch.

Once you have written your horrendous book, you will start writing again. No, not a new book. You will begin writing your horrendous book again. You will cut scenes you love, you will see better ways to move your plot forward, you will begin to understand your characters and reshape them into more authentic souls.  You will be focused and  work on your book in a balanced way (if you are lucky.)  And after months of struggling, you will reach the end of the novel  again, and now you will have a mediocre book.  It will be meh, but you will feel that have climbed a big mountain. Only your writing partners and a few close friends will still be encouraging you to go on with this. You may now have some doubt roving around in your heart. You will feel weary. You will put the book aside for a few weeks (avoiding it like a scared chicken) and then finally pull it out again and realize it is OK. It's nothing special, but at least it has a plot, real characters who make some sort of sense. You will repeat this process again and again. You might repeat it 5 times, 10 times or more. 

Finally you will come to a draft that your scared chicken-self will pull out of the drawer and read. This book will need some copy editing. You might have to change a word here or there. But it will not be bad and it will not be meh.  Keep a box of tissues ready. You will feel you have reached the moon, invented time travel, and climbed Mount Everest. You have distinguished yourself in a most special and important way. You haven't attemped to "get published."  You have written a very good book. It is a masterpiece.

Getting published it not the same as writing a good book. But that is for another post.  I hope that you dedicate yourself to writing an awesome and lasting book.  I'm  happy to have had the chance to cheer you on.  I will see you next week with more inspiration.

Here is the next doodle. I call this one "Wonder Twin Chickens."

Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. Benjamin Franklin


Vijaya said...

No wonder it is easier to put my horrendous book aside to write test questions. But I cannot procrastinate any longer. Come Monday, I must at least look at it.

SCBWI REP said...

Hi, Vijaya! I love Mondays. They help me start new things. It is not as horrendous as you think. I'm sure. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Molly! Sigh, I have one of those books, maybe two. Thanks for the huge shout out in the scratch!!

Molly/Cece said...

Sure! Ah, every book I write has the horrendous draft.

Btw friends, my friend Candi has just recently released this ebook: Check out LITTLE ACORN'S BIG FALL on the uTALES site.

Faith Pray said...

Ha! Good words. True words. It's like what they say about National Geographic photographers - they typically take 1,000 pictures to get one gem. But that might be one of those urban legends. I'm pretty clueless. The thing about the horrendous novel is that when I'm writing it, I tend to think it's the best thing I've ever written. What's with that? Maybe you can write a post about writers in denial. :)

Molly/Cece said...

Oh, I'm so glad you mentioned the-horrendous-novel-is-the-best-thing-I-have-ever-written-while-I-was- writing-it syndrome. I will turn to Samuel Coleridge Taylor and his idea of poetic faith. I find that writers have a particular capacity for poetic faith. Our mind is awake as we write and seeking the wonders of the world. Think about that until I get to the post about this phenomena. The good news, it's not denial. Definetely not.

Molly/Cece said...

Ack -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Sorry about that. ;)