Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tip of the Iceberg


consider an iceberg

We've all seen Titanic, right? We know what lurks underneath that pretty chunk of blue ice poking out of the water....

Hence the phrase....that's just the tip of the iceberg

I propose it is the same with our writing

The tip of the iceberg is what actually gets published (someday or currently)

What lies below are the

practice drafts

partially finished novels



character bibles

word notebooks

scribbled napkins from Carls Jr with brilliant ideas that came to us while lunching with kids

I heard somewhere that as much as 90% of most things we write will get discarded, edited out, lost, set aside....

But it is the foundation on which great things rest

so we should never be discouraged when we eye that stack of unfinished manuscripts or practice novels

We are simply building our foundations

Questions: how many partially finished manuscripts and how many practice novels do you have tucked away in your writing box?

My answer: five partially finished ms/3 novels


Danyelle said...

*tries really hard to think*

I have two practice novels that will never see the light of day. They are guarded by killer dust bunnies under the bed.

I have my WIP, and *counts* 2-3 stories I'll finish at a later time. I have two stories that are finished in first draft--one being revised. And one that's flirting, but not talking. >.<

Very nice image, by the way. Writing is very much like a gigantic iceberg, drifting with deceptive gentleness along the currents of life. :D

morrow said...

Thank you for this analogy. What a wonderful way to think of things.

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh yeah, we've got a novel hidden away on a very high shelf that we like to call our 60,000 word writing exercise. Good times.

Lynnette Labelle said...

I have 1 YA (1st draft), 2 YA (unfinished 1st draft), 2 romantic suspense (1st draft), and 1 romantic suspense in progress (which is a revision of above mentioned work). This one will see the light of day eventually.

Lynnette Labelle

Cindy said...

Oh boy, you really want me to answer this question? I have five practice novels written years ago (two of which I can't imagine EVER showing anyone). As far as WIP's, I am planning on finishing most of them. Honestly, I think I have close to ten.

Tess said...

And how many of us (me included!) thought that first novel was a masterpiece!? LOL. Maybe for someone it is...but not for me.

I'm glad I'm not the only one with stacks of paper tucked away....

Liana Brooks said...

Oh gosh.... do I actually need to count?

My current WIP will be (I think) my fifth finished novel. Maybe my sixth. I have well over twenty novels started and abandoned with over 10k written. And probably another 50 where I scribbled down and idea or a scene and left it at that.

Eventually I'd like to see them all published and I hate to call any of them training novels. I've learned something from all of them. I know some of them have more commercial staying power than others. And some ideas I've cannibalized for other work so the original won't see the light of day. But I'm sure those will get replaced by new ideas in the years to come.

Some days I wish I could pin down my favorite authors and see a few of the drafts of the books I love best. One of the hardest lessons to learn as a writer is to not compare your first draft with a printed book. It's so easy to get discouraged when you see this flawless masterpiece on your shelf with it's bright and shiny cover.

I try to envisage all the drafts leading up to those books when I'm editing. It makes my own WIP seem less daunting.

Lady Glamis said...

Tess, that's beautiful. And very uplifting! I love it!

I have 3 finished novels. Two in polishing stages. One from high school and a piece of crap (at the moment). I am actually proud of all of them. :D

lotusgirl said...

I love your comparison! I'm still working on my first novel. I finished it a while back and am now in rewrites. I've started several other projects, but now I'm working only on this story. I can totally agree that about 90% of what we write is cut, but everything we write is important. All the stuff we cut is what gets us to that 10% that we keep.

Angela said...

What a great way to think of it. :-)

Me, I probably have 9 novels kicking around--some are hiding under my bed never to see the light of day again, and others are in various stages of workable.

LexiconLuvr said...

I plead the fifth. (No, not 5 novels/partially finished MS's.) =P

Charlie said...

Um, Practice novels? I hope my novel is not a practice one! lol

1 finished novel
1 half completed novel
2 other just started novels
an assortment of essays that I write when the mood strikes.
1 practice blog! :)

Charlie said...

..and my first novel IS a masterpiece. Really!

...I hope

Jennifer Shirk said...

I've finished every manuscript I've started.
1- will NEVER see the light of day
1-needs retooling but I'm too lazy to tear it apart
1-submission now
1-currently working on 1st draft

Scott said...

I'm sorry, but I can't that high when wearing shoes! Kidding. Well, somewhat.

I have quite a few rough drafts lounging in boxes in my office closet. They're quite content in their dark little place and really start to fret and scream whenever they feel the box move or the lid begin to open. I've learned just to let them remain in their comfortable exile.

On my multiple harddrives (two flash, one external, and the actual harddrive of the computer), I have . . . 1 Completed and ready to query, 1 completed sequel to the ready to query project, 3 in various revision stages, 2 rough drafts still waiting in line for the editing process, and 2 works in progress. Hey, I did all that with out taking off my shoes. It's going to be a K-E-L-L-O-G-G great day. : )

Okay, my list is not as bad as it looks. I know that a couple of the projects probably won't see the light of day anytime soon. I'm comfortable with that decision.

Lastly, as for foundations . . .have you seen how many books Tolkien's estate published uner the 'lost tales' tagline, or the many books showing all the stuff he didn't include in LOTR? Yeah, I have quite a foundation as well.


p.s. I once thought my first writing endeavor was the most brilliant thing I'd ever written . . . until I realized I used the word 'most' in almost every sentence. : )

Scott said...

Ooops, my first sentence should be . . .

I'm sorry I can't count that high when I'm wearing shoes.

Obviously my mind was working faster than my fingers could type. ; )

Robyn said...

Tess, I have a bunch of partially finished picture books, a chapter book that will be completed, and a novel that I gave up on, but I took the name from it and used it as a name of one of the two main characters in my soon to be finished MG novel. So it gave me something, huh? And the first thing I ever wrote? To me it was BRILLIANT! Now when I read it? Not so brilliant. Just goes to show, I must be learning something. :)

Wendy said...

3 novels (one is my WIP) and 1 unfinished MS.

I hope to get back to some of them, but if I don't I know I can pull from them.
~ Wendy

Jody Hedlund said...

5 finished novels that will never, ever see the light of day again. A couple of unfinished. Binders full of notes and ideas. Files overflowing with research. And finally 2 current finished novels in the hands of an agent.

Tess said...

You guys are funny and feisty this morning - I'm laughing in my pj's here :D

I sincerely hope my previous comment didn't offend. I'm sure there are many who will not require the piles of practice writing I have and do continue to require.

Great confessions, however. And, I LOVE Scott's comment about Tolkien. Maybe a few of those ms under the bed will make their way to print after I am famous and dead - lol.

quixotic said...

That is a great way to thing about it. You are so right. Only the tip of our mountain of work will make it to the publishing stage. =)

Paige said...

None. But I have a lot of ideas rattling around in my half empty brain. Maybe some day I'll write.

B.J. Anderson said...

This is perfect! And so very true. I have 4 finished manuscripts, about 15 short stories, and 2 partials. Sigh. Yes, my iceberg is getting awfully big.

Jill Kemerer said...

So that's what my office closet is drowning in? The under-the-iceburg notes n' such from my books!

Don't hate me, but I finish every book I start. I'd never finish any if I didn't. I only consider one to be horrific and I don't have any trace of it anymore. I've written seven books besides the unmentionable. The first four would need massive work to be publishable, but my last three are getting closer.

Davin Malasarn said...

Tess, this post really cheered me up! Thanks! Yup, I've got two practice manuscripts tucked away somewhere. Hopefully the third one gets out into the world. :)

Tess said...

Paige - welcome to the discussion dear friend o' mine from college days. You would be a magnificent writer....and I take issue with the half empty brain. Much better said, half full :D

Jill - seriously? ok, I won't hate you...but it's tempting (JK!)

Davin and quixotic and BJ - no stress on those pages, right? We are building our beautiful and strong foundations :) Thanks for the comments.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I have five finished novels (one needs complete revision!), one unfinished and one WIP. I finish and revise and re-revise everything over and over. Why? Because...I had an agent once who absolutely loathed one of my novels. She said, and I quote, "There is too much wrong with this to salvage anything." Less than a year later, with very little change, I got a request for revisions from Clarion for that same novel. I just have to believe if I've done my best, someone will like it. Of course, if it sucks...that becomes quickly apparent from the rejection letters. Thus, the re-revision mentioned above. :)

Crystal said...

Okay, Tess, now my confidence is gone. Just kidding! Seriously, though, my current work-in-progress is my first novel, BUT it started out as a picture book. Does that count as a practice draft? I turned it into a middle grade novel upon suggestion from an editor at Random House (sent as an unsolicited submission about 4 yrs ago)who sent me the kindest rejection letter. I also have 2 "finished" picture books that probably need more revision.

Also, thanks for that encouraging comment on my blog about me creating a book trailer. You have more confidence in me than I have in myself!

If anyone's interested, Tess also gave wonderful step-by-step instructions for creating a book trailer. You can see these instructions in the "Comments" section of my blog post entitled "Friday Links" (dated May 22, 2008).

Thanks again, Tess! And yes, that iceberg analogy is so true.

Tess said...

Oh, no! So sorry, Crystal. I say those PB's totally count! As do all your outlining, research, notes. As do all the stories you wrote years ago...big or little. It all builds experience, right?

Amy - that agent must have been blind. or high. or blind and high!

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

Ha! Yes, I'm sure that's the case! :)

Crystal said...

Yes, Tess, all those drafts, research, outlining DEFINITELY builds experience! :)

And don't worry, I was just kidding! Your blog & outright encouragement has really increased my confidence! :)