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Detours and Dead Ends

I'm not known for my excellent sense of direction. As a matter of fact, if you ask anyone in my family, they will likely tell you that I suck at navigation. If I say "Go right," there's a good chance you should go left. I'm constantly running in circles, staring blankly at street signs, and sheepishly buying maps at convenience stores.

So it will probably come as no surprise to anyone that I got lost on my way to the airport yesterday.

I dragged myself out of bed at six to catch an early flight to D.C., to visit my parents and sister. Someone forgot to remind me that there is currently a buttload of road work in Colorado Springs surrounding the airport, and that road work caused many detours and backtracking and cussing at vehicles which didn't do anything besides get in my way, and by eight-thirty... I had missed my flight. Not the best way to start a vacation.

The good news is that I caught a flight only an hour later and managed to get home to my parents. The bad news is that this detour drove me to think of other things that I'm bad at navigating.

I'm going to be completely honest: first drafts scare the shit out of me. Once upon a time, I got excited at the possibility of starting a new novel, pounding out plot points and discovering characters. Now, after long months of revisions that only resulted in trunked's hard not to be scared. What if I take a wrong turn? What if I wreck this story? What if I write the best book I possibly can, and it's just...not good enough?

I need to learn to be brave. I need to learn how to drive through all those detours, to follow where my characters lead, to backtrack if necessary. I need to honor my process (thanks, Phoebe) even if it takes me years to find the way to a better book.

Because I have to believe that, ultimately, the destination is worth the detour.
Kristin Briana Otts

Kristin is an aspiring YA author with an abiding love for her dog, ghost hunter tv shows, and rainy days.

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  1. I am right there with you KrJr. I stare at a blank screen and panic, then freeze. I think its normal though, after you put your guts into something for so long to have it go nowhere.

    Where else in life do you keep doing the same thing after continued failure? (Whats the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, LOL We writers are INSANE!) If nothing else, it makes us stronger! Right? Right?!

  2. I'm right there with you.

    I just keep reminding myself, even if I trunk this MS it was a learning experience. Everything you do to better your craft is a building block.

    Currently my battle is wondering if my MS is interesting enough. There are so many great and interesting books out there. It's very intimidating. But I just keep thinking all these great authors that are at the top of their best sellers lists now probably thought the same thing at one time.

    We're okay. Just keep pecking away. Some days will be better than others.

    I think Nathan Bransford said it best the other day on twitter~ The solution to every writing problem that has ever existed: Just keep writing.

  3. I'm still such a newbie that I haven't gotten to the point where I'm afraid of starting something new. I swear I'm afraid of everything else though so it's always good to remember to try and be brave, even when we're really not.

  4. Yes! It is such a scary proposition to start a new project. And you can't so much LEARN to be brave as you can... just throw yourself out there! It's definitely scary, but I know you (and I!) can do it :)

  5. You and I are in such similar spots right now.

    *climbs into car beside KBotts*

    *turns up music*

  6. Yes. Me too. Too much revision has robbed my brain of the entirely un-editorial rough draft process. I'm having trouble letting myself be freeform. But hey, the bright side is that there's plenty more revision up ahead, which we're both experts at :) Push through!

  7. YES.

    This is exactly what feeling right now. I'm 34k into my wip and even though I'm closed to finishing - I'm SO scared. For starters, I didn't outline at all, this whole book was inspired by a one lined summary. But the more I write, the more uncertain I get and I start to think: what if I can't fix anything? What if I take wrong turn and mess everything up?

    So yeah...this is a scary process.

    Great post Kristin!

    Haha my word verication is ternright. That must be a sign. : )

  8. It is worth it, and you are one of the bravest writers I know. Like Scribbling Scarlet said, my trunked novels were part of my apprenticeship. And, you know, it's not like I've completely deleted them. Bones and skin of them may see the light of day once again, at some point.

  9. Oh my gosh, I'm so there with you. My first ms was sooo close to being what I wanted it to be and has some good peer reviews - but no agent or publisher. and so every word of my new WIP is like drawing blood. I got 1/2 done and started a complete rewrite. And now I'm back to 1/4 done and love the story, but still question everything.

    Sorry, that wasn't very inspiring. Good luck to all of us!

  10. Great post, Kristin! It's very true - you've got to be brave and drive on.


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Item Reviewed: Detours and Dead Ends Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kristin Briana Otts