I had every intention of sitting down this weekend and dedicating several hours to writing, but the weather was so deliciously warm and gorgeous, I opted instead to spend it outdoors doing yardwork and landscaping. Late Friday evening I’d jotted about 12 paragraphs down, the beginnings of Chapter 11 of my book, and planned to finish the chapter before Monday morning. Seeing how it is now Monday and I hadn’t done any writing this weekend, I opened the chapter and began to read it, hoping to settle back into the scene and work through it again.
Guys…it was hot garbage.
It was slapdash and pedestrian and juvenile and littered with grammatical errors and generally awful. I expect to one day look back on this first book and roll my eyes and ponder at how terrible it is, but to feel all that shame and embarrassment in the midst of it was too much.
I scanned those paragraphs looking for redeeming qualities and any way I could salvage the mess I’d made, but there was nothing I could do. It was trash. Absolute rubbish. And when faced with garbage that can’t be recycled, sometimes ya just gotta throw it all away.
Select All, Delete and gone.
I deleted Chapter 11. I had to. I had to accept that it wasn’t me at my best and it would sully everything else I was trying to do. It doesn’t feel good admitting that to myself (or to you). I don’t enjoy telling people that I wrote something so god-awful that even I was disgusted by my own lack of talent. But, that’s what happened: it was broken, it had to be fixed, and the only way to fix it was to start again.
There’s a pretty obvious allegory here about life being like that, but you can put it together yourself. Sometimes we make a mess. Sometimes we have to admit we made a mess. And sometimes we have to get rid of the mess before we can move forward.
Here’s to the many chapters in life we will write and then hurriedly bury somewhere, hoping and praying they never see the light of day again.
Here are a few details about my book. I’ll add to this as I go so you can see the whole thing happening before your eyes.
Setting: the South and the Midwest, present day
Characters: three adult siblings (major) and their families (minor)
Chapters so far: 10
Chapter goal: between 20 – 25
Agent: none, won’t be querying or submitting until book is finished
Publisher: none, see above
I’ll check in again soon to update this list and tell you where I’m at mentally as well. I hope you’ll stick around, especially if you’ve considered writing a book yourself or you have written one. Maybe we can learn something from one another.