Put Your Novel In A Drawer

I’m walking my dog Farley home and the forest is whispering little reminders to me, making me think, giving me story ideas.

To my left, we come across a doe and two fawns. We’ve been in the mountains long enough that Farley behaves  – for a moment. I decide I’ll be safe if I walk on the far side of the road away from the deer. The mama deer, she decides I might rethink that plan. Her two fawn hide behind her, and she turns and faces me.

She struts her fronts paws, telling me to back off. And I do. I’m not sure if she’s about to charge.

Dusk is upon us, and I’d like to reach home before dark. I can take a path down to the river, back behind the houses and up on the other side, but I’m a little nervous about bears. I can climb up a step hill to a neighbouring house and cut through their property, or I can pass the mama deer. I opt for choice number two.

I grab ahold of long grass, four feet long and full of thistles, and pull my myself toward the crest of the hill. Farley quickly jumps in front of me and pulls me forward. I’m halfway up when we startle a buck. He’d been sitting in the grass, and I’d been too focussed on the doe and her fawns to notice him. He bolts, and I catch a glimpse of his antlers as he runs by.

Buck

Change of plan. I head toward the next house, feeling like a trespasser, and walk around the front, only to come face to face with another, bigger, buck. I hold in a scream, Farley barks wildly and Mr. Buck stares at us. Doesn’t move an inch.

So, I step back, cross through my neighbours outdoor eating area, wishing I’d actually met my neighbours, and head away from the buck. And who’s behind the next house. Buck number one.

This is crazy, I think. Did the deer decide to have a party near my house? Mama doe, her fawns and both bucks are frozen like statues, staring at me. I choose the only option left and keep walking forward. They stay, I go. All works out well.

I arrive home a little exhilarated, realizing sometimes I just have to face my fears. Even when it comes to writing.

Early on in my writing career, someone told me the best thing to do after finishing a draft of a novel, is to put it in a drawer and don’t look at it for at least two weeks. How hard is that? Well, I followed that advice and haven’t looked at my novel for 6 months.

Now that I’m my new brave self, I go to my desk drawer and pull out my novel. I didn’t understand the advice at first, but now I get the act provides distance from the story. I’m so glad I put the novel away.

After hours of hard work, I find plot holes, repeated words (even if they’re a chapter apart, they can jar the reader), scenes that are not needed and of course, the dreaded typos. Now my novel is a better read, and I’m glad I put it out of sight. I’m also glad the deer are out of sight, and hopefully sleeping somewhere and dreaming finding haunting grounds farther away from my house.

Even though hiding your novel out of sight might seem impossible, if you’re looking for ways to improve the writing, this might help.

Thanks for reading . . .

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2 thoughts on “Put Your Novel In A Drawer

  1. Thanks for the advice, Kristina. I’m three chapters into revision and I’m so UNDERwhelmed. This novel, although I love the characters, just isn’t what I’d imagined and I’m not sure how to fix it…yet. I did a quick turn around after first draft, and now I feel nothing but frustration. For the last few days I’ve been thinking about a short story I’d like to write. Sticking the novel in a drawer for a few weeks sounds very appealing at this moment:)

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    1. Even thought it’s tough to do, it seems to work. I think the mind processes things when we focus on other stuff. I also found that not having read the book for a while, some of it seemed new and I was surprised I’d written it. Sounds crazy after spending so much time with the words. Best of luck with your rewrite.

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