Last night I finished the first draft of Secrets! Woohoo! I stayed up late the last couple of nights to get it done; I wrote about 10,000 words in just the last couple of days. Final word count is 75,617, which is roughly where I’d pegged it finishing up at. This is just the first draft, of course, and I’ve discovered I typically add more in than I take out when I’m revising, so I expect that to grow. Maybe 82k when it’s all said and done.
Where Secrets Are Hidden is my fifth completed novel manuscript. The Opal Magestone, which I’m currently querying, was my third, and of course Resident 619, my NaNoWriMo 2011 project, was number four. Even after this many projects, I find it interesting that I can still see myself growing a lot as a writer from one to the next. I go back now, two manuscripts and 150,000 words later, and read the writing in Magestone and can feel the difference. I couldn’t define it for you, couldn’t put my finger on exactly what’s changed, but in Secrets it’s a little smoother, a little tighter, I think. I kind of want to go back and rewrite Magestone now that I’ve improved. I won’t, of course – Magestone’s not bad, and I’ve got other projects I want to write – but a bit of me wishes to.
I think all creative artists are faced with this if they work at it long enough. After two or five or ten years, with several albums/books/paintings under their belt, I expect many people look back at their early work and cringe a little bit. But that early work wasn’t necessarily bad. The current work might be better, but people liked the early stuff, too. And we’ve all got to go through those early stages of good before we can be great.
I get the impression from reading various writing blogs/comments that there are some writers who are reluctant to query their current work because they know that the next project will be better. And, well, yes, the next project will be better, or I sure hope it will be if you’re learning anything from what you’re doing. But that doesn’t mean don’t query this project; it doesn’t mean this project is bad. I think as artists we need to recognize that we’ll always be growing, and be able to accept our work as being good in and of itself, without comparing it to potential (or existing) future works. Most of our fans won’t be judging us that way, and many of them won’t (consciously) see the difference anyway. Take pride in your work as it is – it’s already miles better than what most other non-writers(/musicians/artists) can do.