Monday, September 19, 2016

Self Discovery

I don't know about anyone else, but I learn something about myself every time I write a new manuscript. I'm not just talking about the skills and how much my writing has improved, but about the discovery deep in my core, those things I learn about who I am as a person.

Rewind to the first manuscript I ever wrote. That manuscript was me. Just about everything in it related back to me in some way. The main character was me in just about every sense. She looked like me, acted like me, and even had family members like mine. They always say write what you know and oh I did. That said, I never finished that manuscript. And while I learned a lot of what not to do when writing, I didn't learn much about myself, except that I had ideas and I wanted to play with story structure and characters.

But the further I got into writing, the more and more I learned. By the time I started my second manuscript I had ideas... lots of them. They were taking over at every turn. But somewhere in the middle, despite having a clear path for my story the doubt crept in. Was I any good? Was I wasting my time? Maybe I should just quit. So I sought out feedback and validation. And the comments weren't all fantastic, in fact many weren't great but in the feedback I also found encouragement and that people liked my ideas. And with that tiny bit of support, I finished my manuscript. And for the first time, I realized I could do something I never thought I could. Write a book.

By the time I got to manuscript three it wasn't a question of if I could finish but when and how good I could make it with all my new found knowledge and confidence. But the discovery within that manuscript was something unexpected. Despite my best efforts to branch out to something new, a comment by a critique partner led me right back to myself. She noted that a particular character was having an emotional response that didn't seem to match the rest of the story. And in that moment I realized I'd baked my entire emotional range into that character and I hadn't even realized it. And in understanding that connection, I learned so much more about how I react to things and why those reactions are the way they are.

But the self discovery didn't end there. While querying manuscript three, I worked on a fourth. I struggled with it. The words came out choppy and many times didn't come at all. And when I finally beat the ending words out, I understood why I had struggled so much to write this story. The story itself was about self discovery, about understanding who you are and accepting it despite what others might think. And that very thing was what I had been struggling with in my own life. And once I finally owned everything about myself and became proud of it, the story and my struggle to write it made perfect sense.

Now as I revise my fourth manuscript, I've just barely begun my fifth. I'm not sure what journey this manuscript will take me on, but I'm excited to find out what new things I'll discover about myself while writing this new story. What adventure am I about to embark on? I'm not sure, but it's guaranteed to be something enlightening.

So after all this self discovery it got me wondering. Do other people have similar experiences when they write? What things have you learned about yourself in your writing? How has your writing changed you?

6 comments:

  1. You've pretty much set out what my experience has been. From the can I do it, to I can, to how much better can I do it. Thanks for the post. I'm not alone! Yay.

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    1. Ahh the best feeling, I'm not alone in this :) So glad to have others to take this journey with. Best of luck on yours.

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    2. I have learned that I have a lot of stories inside me. When I finish a first draft of a manuscript I think I have said it all, there is no more, I had laid it all out and I will never have another...
      YUP-- I learned to trust the Muse.

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    3. Ahh yes the muse is hard to trust sometimes but it typically knows whats up ;)

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