Monday, March 26, 2018

why I'm STILL writing the same book 3 years later ...

In the spring of 2014, I had an idea.

I'd finished writing my first full-length novel a few years before, and hadn't really worked on a substantial project since then, so when the names "Skylar" and "Mike" popped into my head, I grabbed onto them and held on with both hands. I will write another book this year! I thought to myself while guarding a the wading pool that summer. I will have the entire outline done in a few months! I declared, and it will be published within two years!

Needless to say, that did NOT happen. I couldn't think of any kind of plotline for the rest of 2014 - not one. I was stuck developing the characters, thinking about the nuances of their personalities, but unable to proceed with outlining because I just couldn't think of anything worth actually writing about.

Fast forward to 2015, when some sort of idea occurred to me, I outlined in a rush, and sat down and churned out 50,000 words during November (anyone ever heard of NaNoWriMo?) I was elated! Ecstatic! The book was finally done! It was great! It barely even needed editing! So I gave it to my sister, and she read it ... sloowwwwly ... much more slowly than she had ever read a book before.

And I knew that the book wasn't done yet. 

So, in a series of edits that I blogged about (editing, part 1, editing, part 2, and editing, part 3), I sat down and read through the book, ruthlessly noting any scenes that were boring or didn't make sense, and by the time I had finished, I'd decided that about 50% of the book needed to be deleted. Gradually, I made lists and timelines and notes upon notes upon notes, until I was confident that I had a strong NEW vision - I had enough content to fill the book back up to 100% when I was done cutting.

It was a whirlwind of a process, one I can't really remember unless I go back and read my own blog posts from those months. But at the end, I emerged with a book - again - and this one was better.

This brings us to 2017, when I was in school, and working, and desperately, painfully busy (too busy, actually, which is why in 2018 I made some changes and carved out a little breathing room in my schedule). Nothing much happened to the book in 2017, except that I TRIED to edit, stole hours here and there and combed through the chapters again, changed things, added dialogue, and asked my sister to read it again (I think she's read the book, in all of its versions, like 4 times? She's a saint).

But this year has been different. After writing and re-writing and polishing and editing for what felt like years (because, actually it was years. ha.) I still REALLY liked this book. It still felt like a piece of my heart, it still had the ability to make me laugh out loud, or tear up, and there were still chapters that I didn't like to read because they made me feel things I didn't want to feel ... and most importantly, I wasn't bored of it yet.

I'm not sure when I stopped looking at it like a hobby and started thinking about trying to get published - taking myself more seriously than I ever had before - but a big motivator behind taking time off this year has been  my desire to commit to this book and put a little work into the idea of trying to get published.

So 2018 has looked like a little less writing and a lot more research - I'm letting a few more people see the book, sending it away over email and trying not to think about other people reading it and maybe not liking it (WELP), and in my spare time, instead of writing, I'm searching for literary agents and publishing houses, drafting blog posts and trying to find contests to enter (did you know authors are supposed to have publishing history and qualifications even before they get published for the first time? HOW), and it's exciting! And tiring! And terrifying! And sometimes it feels like this goal is too big (and sometimes I'm convinced I'm going to get published tomorrow, which is worse, because that is SO not how this business works).

It's a lot more complicated - and a lot more work - than I expected, but even though I spend most of the time terrified, I really really love it. I always swore I would never write for a career, never try to be published, because I wanted my books to be MINE, but now I'm just so in love that I can't keep quiet about it. I love writing books - and editing books - and so far, trying to publish books (although, really, I'm just half a baby step down this path, so far).

So, in short, this is what I do. This is how I do it. And this is why I am crazy enough to spend years on the same book, (and why I'm not sick of it yet!!)

Here's my question to you - what do YOU love? ♥

If you're curious about what it was like to write an entire novel in a month, I have good news for you!! I captured the pain+joy in weekly recaps which you can find here! (1, 2, 3, 4) But first, you should read a little about what NaNoWriMo is (here

If you want a little more concrete information on what editing literally looks like, don't forget to check out the links I shared above!



  1. What a journey!! I’m so proud of you for sticking to a work of art because it’s literally the hardest thing I can think of to do. But that feeling when it’s all done and completed is so worth it.

    1. <3 <3 <3 Thanks Brooke! We artists have to stick together :) Miss you!

  2. I applaud you for being so dedicated to this story, Olivia, and not only working hard on it for a little while but also coming back to it and reworking it. That is something I struggle with.

    1. So nice to hear from you, Danielle! <3 this is the first book I've spent this much time on, and it's an equally frustrating/rewarding process...

  3. This was so sweet to read. I love your perseverance and your obvious passion for your book. Keep writing girl! You have a story to tell and I can't wait to read it!

  4. This is exciting! I hope you'll keep blogging about your writing/publishing journey.

  5. Ah, writing. I don't think there's anything easy about it. It really takes your whole heart and soul but keep at it! <3


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