How many days are in the school year? I know a teacher who begins counting those days on the first day of classes. There are about 176 days for students. Actually, I start counting after the first week of school has passed because there are 36 weeks and it’s easier to count backward from 36 than from 176!
Everyone—students and teachers alike—go through hills and valleys throughout the year, but we all know on the last day, there is great rejoicing. The kids go home early on the last day and the teachers dance in the halls. There is reason for great celebration. Challenges have been met, and in most cases, conquered. Learning has occurred which was proven in the tests given throughout the year—maybe not always as much as hoped for, but there is progress toward the goals set by the curriculum standards. In some cases, behavioral patterns change, hopefully for the better. Sometimes it takes the “two-by-four between the eyes” (figuratively speaking, of course) to make the meaning of those lessons realized. But on the last day, everyone is happy, and new goals are set for the following year.
Apply all this to the writing of your “Great American Novel.”
From the genesis of an idea, the author experiences the hills and valleys of the writing process. Some days he/she will awake and write ten thousand words with little or no effort and get it right. Other days, the creator of those words will stare at the computer monitor, go through their research notes, take a walk, chew on a pencil, sip a glass of iced tea while playing the “What if” game, and nothing happens.
The novelist never knows when the morning dawns if the day will be productive or leave a sense of, “Why am I doing this?” Maybe further research is needed. Maybe a good session with the critique group or mentor will help meet the challenge, and conquer that dreaded “writer’s block,” which some say doesn’t really exist. Whatever avenue is taken becomes a learning experience. So the novel progresses.
There is opportunity for making behavioral changes in his/her psyche. The change might be a depressing temporary slump by a normally upbeat personality. Or the opportunity for developing a stronger sense of determination might lead the writer to overcome the hurdle he/she faces. Further research might lead to a new approach in character or plot development.
Sometimes the mind must rest from the pressures of trying to meet a publisher’s deadline. That resting period can also be a source of creativity—maybe reading a novel by a favored author—leading to a new way of thinking through the problem.
The revision process begins and continues until editor and author agree the story has reached its final stage. Two words appear on the last page—THE END.
And the author breaks into his happy dance.