Craft, Critique, Editing, Feedback, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Revision, Writing

Who knew brevity could take so long?

On this blog, I’ve been chronicling my progress in writing my novel The Brevity of Roses. I announced that it was finished … more than once! Last week, I told you that Kayla had been beta-reading for me and the feedback was mostly positive. Well, this week she finished the last three chapters. Unfortunately, this time, her feedback was not good.

Just kidding. She “loved” it. That’s not to say she found no problems with it, but they’re easy fixes. What’s more, in reading through to mark what needs to be fixed, I’ve found other sentences that could be clarified or strengthened. So the editing continues.

I’m generally a patient person … except with myself. I worked on this book every minute I could spare—and a great number of minutes when I should have been doing other things—until finally, after more than a year, I pressured myself to be DONE. After the first time I thought the book was finished (at 69,000 words) I gave it to some beta-readers, took their feedback and set to editing.

Then, I sent that “finished” version to another beta, thinking she’d say it was ready for its final polish. “Ummm … no,” she said and sweetly pointed out that she would like to know a bit more about what Meredith was thinking here and there. And didn’t I think I might have rushed this scene? And Renee’s such a great character; why not give her more space?

All right … I had to admit that I had wanted to be done so badly I sold my novel short. Back to work … for six more months! My word count has grown (to 83,000 words) and my story is more layered, stronger, and yet, now I see, I have a bit more work to do. But the end is near, a few hours work, and then this novel will be …

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21 thoughts on “Who knew brevity could take so long?”

  1. My life is pretty deadline driven and, although I’m very self directed and autonomous in my work, there’s always a coterie of individuals needing to know what I’ve been doing with my time. Not surprising, since they act for the organisation that pays me.
    Quite how I would manage without that structure, with no managers fretting about ‘a feedback report’ or a ‘presentation to the directors’, no one applying pressure for a product, I really don’t know. I thought I was motivated and self driven but it’s nothing compared to the tenacity and singularity of purpose that you, and other writers, have to generate.
    Right now, I’m griping about a cluster of deadlines that will tie up all my time over the next few weeks but at least someone’s going to notice if I don’t deliver!


    1. Suzanne, I’m a procrastinator on many things, but I work hard on my writing. I don’t have to push myself because I love writing and I love the challenge of editing. I just always feel I could do better … and do it faster.


  2. When reading your post, I thought of a couple of things:
    Have you read Stephen King’s “On Writing”? You do not have to be a fan of his literature to enjoy these memoirs. I have found them quite inspiring, especially when he talks about the Ideal Reader – the one you should focus on when writing (how to move that specific person, if I may say).
    Another great thing I read on somebody’s blog yesterday was to keep in mind that keeping a scene because it is clever is not about the plot, but the ego.

    I’m just throwing some random comments and I’m sorry if you think they’re useless.

    I still wanted to applaud your tenacity though. Setting deadlines is one thing, keeping them is something else all together. You should be proud of yourself.



    1. Diana, thank you reading and commenting. I’ve read “On Writing” two times in full, plus the occasional excerpt, and I agree it’s inspiring.

      I do applaud myself for writing this novel. I’ve only ever finished one before this one, so I know it’s hard to do. I’m just frustrated with myself for trying to take shortcuts with the final polish.


  3. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human.
    Maybe it’s time to take some distance, leave it for a few weeks… for maybe the reason you want to take shortcuts with the final polish is that you’re tired of reading the same thing over and over again. I’m only saying this because I’ve faced that situation.


    1. “Leave it for a few weeks” what torture! 🙂 As many times as I’ve read it, I still haven’t really tired of it. And seeing it through the eyes of a beta-reader is distance enough for me, at this point. Actually, this novel is so near polished, I don’t think I need to take time off. I just need to read it through one more time looking for those less than stellar sentences. Gosh, that sounds conceited, doesn’t it? Make that stellar for me!

      I’m excited and energized about this project again and anxious to wrap it up and move on.


  4. Linda! You totally got me. I was reading along, and hit, “Unfortunately, this time, her feedback was not good.” I was like OH, NO! What did I miscommunicate? I loved the end!

    And then I saw you were just kidding.

    Your hard work is evident on Brevity, in my opinion. It’s inspiring to see what perseverance and patience (well, mixed with talent, of course) can produce. I have no doubt you’ll be finished with what minor changes are left in no time. 🙂

    PS: Random afterthought, I’m so excited you’re in for Merrilee’s workshop!


    1. Sorry, Kayla, I realized too late that I should have responded to your email before I wrote the blog post! 🙂

      Merrilee’s is the first workshop I’ve ever signed up for. And really, right now, I’m so busy I must be crazy to think I can do it, but I think I should try some writing that requires more discipline for once. And I am a little crazy, so why not? 😀


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