Two Ways Self-Advocacy Helped Me Finish My Old Books

On finishing what you start writing.

When I started writing seriously (as in, towards publication), I quickly accumulated a pile of mostly-finished or partially-executed works. By the time I learned how to finish things, I had *ahem* a lot of things.

So I vowed to finish them all.

Finishing old work is complicated. Sometimes the tone of the writing is so totally entwined with the flawed structure of the book that you can’t edit the book without destroying the essence of the story.

Sometimes, flawed execution carries innocence, charm, and heart within it, and those things are valuable.

A trap that opened up at once in front of me was this: I had committed to finish old things before I wrote new things. Because many of my old things were deeply flawed, I was trying to polish sometimes unworkable writing into something usable.

Here is what helped:

One: I realized, and admitted out loud (to my editor, no less!) that I started every one of those books for a good reason.

Two: I decided to see myself as a worthwhile writer.

Sometimes I was writing for myself, and only for myself; these books I finished swiftly, and put into a folder that I never need to see again. No publishing, deep editing, or re-drafting for these ideas.

Sometimes I was writing an idea that was deeply important to me; if the plot and characters were valuable, I finished the draft and put the book into a “future-work” folder, and have committed to writing a full re-draft in the future.

The final, and invigorating category, were books that were good enough to stand up as they were. This chunk of work has taken by far the most time, but has finally begun to pay off (in finished projects that are publishable).

I don’t think a lot of people are going to read or appreciate Harder Than Rocks until I have a dedicated fan base, and that’s perfectly fine. The book itself is good, and it’s out there. I have another book that is in the final stages for publication now, and then a long series that will be released in quick succession. I am getting started. I am a nobody! And that’s okay!

Sometime in your journey as a writer, you just have to let go and decide that you’re good enough as you are. Most of my old projects are in a queue for re-drafting, but a few of them made the cut, and now I have material in the water, as it were. I am about two weeks away, as of today, from finishing the last piece of material that has a long history. Soon, very soon, I will be able to work on new genre fiction projects.

I am pretty excited.