There were times when I thought Boxed Set might never be finished. More accurately, there was a period when I didn't know when it would be finished. I think the end was always more or less in mind, but the middle was stuck for quite some time. Now that it has been finished for awhile, left at room temperature and seriously edited, I wonder when the next book will be finished.
Instead of worrying when, if or how Boxed Set will be published, because I believe that it will, that it must be one way or another, I spend more time thinking about going the distance again in a second book. I am about 20,000 words in, and at this point 60-80,000 words seem a lofty goal.
As for Boxed Set, we hope to publish traditionally, but I know as a last resort it could be self-published. The digital age has made that much more sophisticated, attainable and easy to move right onto selling platforms. Still, for two journalists, traditional publishing has much more significance for us.
So query we will, and meanwhile, I write. Different genre, different style. Must. Keep. Writing. That's what every author advises.
As for what it takes to finish a novel, Amanda Patterson says on her blog, Writers Write, that the five necessary characteristics are self-belief, the ability to learn and grow, the ability to pay attention, perseverance and obsession.
Since I've got perseverance and obsession pretty well covered, I need to remind myself what she says about self-belief. "Too much self-belief can make you blind to your shortcomings. You
can become convinced that your way is the only way. Authors who want to
publish know they are creating a product. If you’re writing for an
audience, you know that you have to consider what that audience wants.
This could mean taking a writing class, doing your own research, or reading books on how to write. If you want
to become an artist, you take art classes. If you want to learn how to
play a musical instrument, you take music lessons. Why would you believe
becoming a writer is any different? Being arrogant about your abilities
could lead to many wasted years."
Patterson's thoughts on the ability to pay attention are interesting also. "Writers are readers first. Reading is your first step in learning how to pay
attention. Published writers read a lot. Writers are also observers of
human nature and human behavior. The writers who succeed are curious as
to why people, including themselves, do the things they do. They want
to know what gives people pleasure and pain. They see patterns in
people’s lives. They listen to their words and see if their actions
follow what they say. They create characters who are real. If you want
to create a memorable book, watch and listen. Most of your material is
closer than you could ever imagine."
But my favorite thought from her article is really about obsession. It makes me feel good to be obsessed with our book. "It is easy enough to write a bad book, but authors who make a living out of
writing spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort to get things
right. You should care about the final product. This is when being
obsessive is a good thing. Every rewrite, every edit, and every stage of
your book’s life should be important to you. No mistake, no matter how
insignificant, should escape your notice."
The above tells me I am right on track to go the distance, and I'm loving every step of the process.