It is crazy to think that my book journey began three years ago. I’ve learned from several writers that it is normal to take several years to write a first novel. However, I am my own worst critic! As much as it is possible for my first book to be amazing, I need to be patient with myself and just let myself learn.
Generally, the pattern for writing a novel is: come up with a storyline/plot/characters, free write with the storyline/plot/characters in mind, edit raw manuscript, rewrite the manuscript accordingly, repeat steps 2-4 as many times as needed, submit book to publisher, get offer from a publisher, do edits with the publisher, and finally get a finished work. I’m on step 5b. I’m rewriting the book, but this is actually not my first time doing so.
The first time I wrote it, it was too “dark” as my mom called it. I had a lot of raw emotion that I wanted to add to the book, but for the average reader, my emotion would have been too heavy. It was, as professional writers would say, “telling, not showing.”
Then the second time I wrote the book, I realized that while I was getting better at being descriptive, my storyline was not making sense. My characters also seemed flat. I had very specific characters that I wanted to use, but they did not fit the way my book was turning out.
I hate giving up control, but as a Christian, I believe that God directs me to write the book in a specific way to reach a specific audience. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted to write about, and God has shaped it into something different each time I sit down at the keyboard. Since the retreat I went on in October, I’ve learned how to develop real characters and a storyline that was interesting and made sense.
So since October 6th, I have been free-writing my third rewrite of this book. That means that I write with no agenda. I sit in front of my Chromebook for an hour and spew whatever works come out of me onto my Google Docs word document. My goal is been to write 80,000 words by the end of the year. As of Sunday, when I last worked on it, I have written 66,813 words. I’ll be finished with the rough manuscript in two weeks!
I am finally at the stage where I can name my audience and my plot. For a while, I was trying to write this book to all people at all times. However, my book needs to have an audience. Instead of trying to please everyone, I need to write as if my story was just meant to reach one person. I now have my person. My audience is a young person (mature 16 to 24) who struggles with an anxiety disorder, whether it is Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, OCD, obsessive thoughts, Anxiety/Depression, Phobias, or just plain worry. I know someone who deals with each of those things, one of them being the one writing this. I wrote this book with the question playing in the back of my head: If someone were to write a story that can help me find peace and experience freedom from this trap, what would I write?
Now, I know I can’t answer all the problems of the world. I know that my voice is a small whisper compared to the shout of those who are suffering. But I have a story, a story that has helped me find freedom from my anxiety. And while I still struggle, I believe that God has helped me tremendously with a disorder that has plagued me for so long. Instead of sharing my testimony, I want to share a story. I want to share it through the eyes of a fictional character, hoping that doing so will help my readers imagine themselves as the main character, believing that they can experience the same freedom and hope that I have.
The book is about a girl who grows up in a society where everyone is Christian. But she feels like an outcast, because she struggles with anxiety. No one is able to help her, so she withdraws herself and does not share how she feels with others. But when she works at an internship with the castle, she learns from the King what she is missing, and she uses what she learns to do some pretty great things.
Being a writer is taking a long journey. I’m not a book factory. I’m a book creator, and creativity takes time. I’m thankful that after three years of stumbling through writing a book, there is now a light at the end of the tunnel.