I am waiting, waiting, waiting.
I am trying to be very patient. If patience really is a virtue, I must be very virtuous indeed. You see, I’m waiting for the results of my Master of Arts Creative Writing thesis paper. Regular readers will know that over the last 18 months I’ve been writing a children’s novel set in Nepal during their recent civil war. I submitted the novel, along with a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the writing of the novel, about mid-December. We were told we might wait 6 to 8 weeks for the results. Two days ago the 9 week mark was reached, so I am trying not to get impatient. Two of my fellow students have heard their results but they submitted the week before me.
This experience has got me thinking about the patience that all writers need. Here are some of my thoughts:
Why writers need patience:
- Some writers need to patiently wait for writing ideas.
- Writers need patience when a story or novel is not going along as it should.
- Patience is needed when life gets in the way of writing schedules, especially if the writer has another job, or a family needing attention.
- You need patience when waiting to hear if a publisher is going to accept your story or novel.
- Once an acceptance is offered by a publisher, patience is needed when waiting to see the work in print.
- When a story or novel has been published, one needs patience waiting for a payment.
- Reading through reviews of one’s work can severely test a writer’s patience.
I’m sure most writers could add many more examples. What can you do while all the waiting is going on?
- While waiting for a idea for a story, read, read, read and do other creative activities to stimulate the mind.
- While waiting to hear from a publisher, go on with other writing projects to maintain momentum with your writing.
- While waiting for your work to be published, be sending out more work to publishers. Keep your momentum going.
- Remember that waiting is inevitable and a part of the writing process. Use the waiting time productively.
- Don’t give up.
I would like to give a big apology to all of my loyal, regular readers. Both of you!
I’m sorry I haven’t updated this site much in recent months. I have been extremely busy working on finalising my Master of Arts Creative Writing thesis paper. This paper consisted of a 40,000 word novel for children (ages 10-12) and a 10,000 word exegesis essay on the writing of the novel.
Last week I finally finished all the last minute editing and proofreading. I had it professionally printed (3 copies) and bound. With a sense of relief I handed it up to my supervising lecturer who organised to have it sent off to two examiners. Now I have a 6-8 week wait to find out if I’ve passed my degree. I am quietly confident of passing because all three of my supervisors approved the final draft, noting that it had improved vastly from earlier drafts.
I found the rewriting phase both fascinating and frustrating. It was frustrating because right up to the final draft I was making changes. Considering it was the 17th draft that I submitted, that’s an amazing amount of rewriting. On the flip side, however, it was fascinating to observe the effect of all those changes. Towards the end of the process I read the whole manuscript aloud several times. Despite being too close to the story, even I could tell how much it had improved in the final stages. Other readers were very positive in their feedback concerning the changes.
One of the most significant changes I made after the 6th draft was to totally rewrite the whole novel, changing it from the third to the first person. This was more difficult than I first imagined because remnants of the earlier third person persisted for several drafts. Eventually all was ironed out and the story is much stronger for the change. Being inside the head of the protagonist is so much more immediate and intimate, perhaps even confronting at times. His unique voice comes over much stronger now.
Now that I’ve submitted it for marking I am going to give myself a few weeks break before preparing the manuscript for sending off to a publisher. I am mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted at present, so a short break – with lots of reading – should refresh and recharge the batteries.
I might even get to add a few more updates on this site in the meantime.
I am in the last stages of finishing my work in progress, a novel for children set in Nepal. This 40,000 word novel, and the accompanying 10,000 word exegesis essay, is the final stage of my Master of Arts in Creative Writing.
I’ve been working on the novel for over 18 months and finally it is getting near to ready to submit to examiners in the coming weeks. Then I plan to start it on its journey around the various publishing houses, so fun continues. This novel writing game is not a sprint, and more of a marathon. In fact, sometimes it feels like having to run a marathon every day.
Despite the weariness, I am pleased with the final product and I’ve learned so much along the way. With the help of my critiquing group, friends who are critical readers, and my supervising lecturers, my skills have been honed and my writing has improved way beyond what I had thought possible.
I have learned, above all, not to be precious about my words. I have learned to be ruthless and to cut anything that does not work, anything that is repetitious, redundancies, passive voice, switches in POV and many other stumbling blocks placed in the path of writers everywhere.
Must get back to the finishing touches.
Late last night, after about 18 months of hard labour, I finally “finished” writing my novel for children set in Nepal.
I have written “finished” in quotes because, in reality, the process is far from complete. Because this novel is my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing, it needs to now go to my supervising lecturers for one last look, mainly proofreading and final checking. It then goes to an independent examiner for marking. After that long process I may graduate. And then starts a whole new ball game: trying to find a publisher. That game could go on for another 18 -24 months or longer. [Sigh]
In its current form the novel is in its 10th draft. Some sections have been through more drafts than that. The final draft was essentially just proofreading on my part; very few words were changed and I found only a handful of punctuation errors – even after all those times reading through it.
The hard work doesn’t end there however. Today I focused back on my exegesis essay which must accompany the novel. In this essay I explain the origins of the story, the problems I had along the journey of writing it, some of the technical questions encountered and how I solved them and the influences on my writing from my research, reading and studies. And its another 10,000 words, of which I’ve written about 3,500. Time to stop blabbing on here and get back to the essay.
Wish me good writing!
It has been quite a few days since my last post here. Sorry – I’ve been distracted by working on my novel for children.
A few minutes ago I finished the 8th draft of the book that has dominated my thinking and writing over the last 18 months. This latest draft is a total rewrite, changing it from the third person to the first person. I think it works, but the real test will come when I read it again – this time I think I’ll read it aloud. This is always a good strategy to find any awkward passages, phrases or sentences that still need a little work and any other glaring errors.
One of the interesting outcomes of this particular rewrite was that my overall word count has risen nearly 500 words and it is now just a few short of 40,000. This is the recommended length for my Masters degree, so I’m right on the money. This increase in words is notable in that I’ve also cut out many hundreds of words, some of them redundant words or phrases. I couldn’t believe how many of these redundancies I had included in earlier drafts. One example: “He felt tears welling in his eyes.” Where else would tears be – dripping from his ears? Or toes? Cut out “in his eyes”.
As I finish off my Masters Degree novel and accompanying exegesis essay in coming weeks and then submit it for assessment, I will be able to get back to more regular postings here.
In the meantime: good writing.