Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Sometimes, The Wheel is on Fire

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Power of Three

Three pages.

That's all I added to my novel in 2010. Three lousy pages. My plan for the year was to finally polish off the first draft and start editing, but you know what they say about the best laid plans of mice and men.1 All I needed was to write seven more chapters, probably no more than 20,000 words. And I couldn't even manage that. So, how do I feel about the state of my novel now?


Am I delirious? Yes, probably. But that's no different from any other day. So why am I happy about my lack of progress? Because, while I wasn't working on it, my novel got better.

To clarify, the story as it's written didn't improve one lick.2 But oh! how glorious is the story in my head!

I may have only tacked on 3 pages of prose to my novel, but I added 18 pages of notes. They detail new ideas to insert, old passages to discard, and plot holes to fill. I know which characters to spare and which adverbs to strike from the record. My revisions will let the humor fly and tie up loose ends. There will be — wait for it — actual character arcs.

I can now pick off poor prose from a distance of 20 yards. I can excise entire chapters without mourning the loss of a particularly delicious phrase. I can eat an entire half gallon of ice cream in a single afternoon.3

And it's all thanks to you.

Okay, not you. But people like you. And also, you.

For you see, I've spent this last year learning how to write. I mean, I've always known how to write, but now I know how to write. And I did so by immersing myself in the online writing community and reading your blogs.4 Sure, I also read non-online material on the subject and honed my craft by participating in a workshop, but it was the advice on writers' and agents' blogs that really helped me grasp best practices regarding plot, characters, dialogue, structure, etc. And I improved my overall writing by penning (and obsessively editing) 78 posts here on The Wheel, just for you.5 'Twas productive procrastination at its finest, and my novel will be infinitely better because of it. I thank you.

Because you've been so good to me, I want to do something for you. I want you all to have $20. So go find your wallet, and pull out twenty dollars. That's my gift to you.

You deserve it.

I wish you all the best for 2011!

1 I'm glad you know, since I sure don't.
2 Which is too bad, since, as everyone knows, it takes three licks to get to a story's chewy center.
3 This last one's not related.
4 Disregard this statement if you aren't a writer or don't have a blog. And by "this statement" in the preceding statement, I mean that statement. As in, the first sentence of this footnote. If you mistakenly disregarded the earlier statement in the main content, please undisregard it now.
5 Disregard if you aren't reading this blog.


  1. I went to my walled, opened it... and didn't find twenty dollars. I was a little disappointed, needless to say.

    And congrats on successful brain writing! Always underestimated in the writing process.

  2. Okay, while my blog has little writerly advice and I can't clump myself in with all those helpful writers of which you speak, I concur with all your aforementioned accolades for them*.

    And thanks to you for always making me laugh! :):)

    *except the footnotes, because those are so YOU!

  3. Sorry, Bryan, obviously you weren't as helpful as I thought you were. :)

    JB, you'll notice my blog is short on advice as well. But sometimes all I'm looking for is a writer who's sharing my struggle, or asking the rest of us for advice. And you're welcome; making people laugh is my greatest talent. That, or footnotes. Or ice cream consumption. Or indecisiveness.

  4. it sad that my wallet doesn't have $20 in it for you to give me?

    Also, i completely agree. I mean, i have a frickin BA in creative writing, but i learned way more about the actual nuts and bolts of writing and the biz from blogs than i did from my BA (Which, however, taught my how to be in crit group)

  5. I was going to open my wallet when I got mugged and am now minus both the $20 and my wallet. What are you to say about that, Nate?

  6. Falen, check your husband's wallet. I might have left the money in there.

    Jeffrey: 'Tis better to give than to receive? Either that, or: It's your own fault for pulling out your wallet so close to that pack of girl scouts.