January was the mentoring month and over the last four weeks Rebecca and I have been working with Rebecca on my first novel, The Witches of New Moon Beach. She has been incredibly creative, using many different strategies to teach me her craft. I think that this project has actually required far more time than she ever thought it would, and writing a book is far more work than I thought it would be. I know how lucky I am to have her stick with me through this process. I get frustrated easily and expect perfection from myself far too often. Still, all is not lost. I have learned a lot in the last few weeks and here are the five most important lessons.
1) Rewriting – a lot of rewriting – is part of the process not a punishment. Often, when I thought I was done, I was really still at the starting line. I had to learn to be more patient and to embrace the fact that a book is not written overnight.
2) My characters started living in my head. They travel with me everywhere. I see an outfit in a store and wonder how my character would look wearing it; I see a car and imagine her driving it. That is kind of freaky, but it is definitely fun.
3) I found out that keeping track of a word count defeats creativity.
4) Sometimes I just had to walk away, rethink, and then re-imagine where I wanted my story to go. That downtime is just as important as the time I spend typing.
5) I learned that my mentor – and probably yours – has clear vision. They see things you don’t. As new writers we all need someone who can identify both our strengths and weakness.
Really, the most valuable lesson I learned is that I need to stop dreaming and really think about what kind of book I want to write. My mentor may be my friend (and in this case my sister-in-law) but she can’t and shouldn’t write my book for me.
My book isn’t finished, but it will be. The one thing I’ll never do is give up. One of these days I hope you’ll be looking inside a book called The Witches of New Moon Beach.
Thanks for the encouragement sent my way. Maybe one of these days, I’ll be mentoring a new writer of my own.