Writing a book can be a long process. When I started this journey 5 years ago, I had very little knowledge of writing itself. But through continuous effort, hard work, and persistence, I finally achieved my goal. Today I want to take stock of the individual stages that I worked through with SEELIE PRINCESS.
Summer 2014 – Spring 2015
In this first phase, a vague idea was formed into a plot through meticulous research and brainstorming. I spent hours upon hours researching Celtic mythology, writing up character profiles, plotting, and experimenting with various different scenes and dialogues.
Spring 2015 – Fall 2015
I think it was in March that I finally found the courage to actually write the book. The first few weeks were slow, and I was weighed down by fear. Could I do this? Or am I just setting myself up to fail? My sense for perfectionism slowed me down even further, because I felt like I had to write the perfect first draft. In the end I guess it was thanks to heartbreak that I was able to let go of my perfectionism and just pour my heart and soul onto the page.
After I finished my first draft, chaos ensued. I had finally done the seemingly impossible—I had written a book. But what now? In those two years, periods of collecting feedback and editing were interspersed with periods of absolute silence. Life kept getting in the way, and I grew more and more anxious about my project. The longer I stayed away, the harder it was to find my way back. But I never stayed away entirely. The way I can explain this is if you think of your mind as a web browser, and the tab called WRITING was constantly open. Sometimes it was shoved to the background, sometimes it was at the very front. But it was never truly gone. In those two years, I explored writing shorter stories, read several books on writing (which I guess would have been helpful before I started out), went to workshops, took a writing class during my semester abroad, and tried to hone my skills as best as I could.
Spring and Summer of 2018
That’s when I truly found my way back to my manuscript. I don’t know why it happened exactly at that point—perhaps because I had a bit less on my plate than I had the previous years. Or perhaps because I could no longer bear the idea that I might never finish this book. So when a friend of mine told me about Pitch Wars, I jumped right back into editing mode. Equipped with the skills I had gained in the previous years, I tore through my manuscript with a red pen in my hand. And while I did not get picked in the competition, I’m glad I tried because it was the motivation I needed to keep going.
Fall and Winter of 2018
But of course being rejected can take a toll on a person. It was the first rejection I received for SEELIE PRINCESS and it was overwhelming, to say the least. It took a couple of week to get back on my feet. I submitted my manuscript to another competition, queried a few agents—and collected some more rejections. But just as I was about to fall down a deep dark hole, I realized that I might be on the wrong path. That the traditional route might not be the right one for me or my book.
Spring and Summer of 2019
After a few months away from my manuscript, I was ready for more. I had collected some ideas and started working on a revision. Going back felt familiar and new at the same time. I was filled with a new kind of excitement, and I rushed through my revision. A couple of feedback sessions and edits later, I was heading straight for the finishing line. In July, I sent off my manuscript to my editor. Another round of edits and my manuscript was up for final proofreading at the beginning of August. And all of a sudden, though it had happened gradually over years, my book was finished.
The end…is the beginning
If you self-publish, the journey doesn’t end there. There’s still formatting, distribution, and marketing, but you should also take a moment to pat yourself on the shoulder and say, “You did it. You really finished that novel.” And then you should hold your little book baby and show it to the world. Because in the end the hardest part of writing a book is letting it go. At least it was for me. But today…