The other day I realized I reached a milestone in my writing journey without noticing.
When I began my first novel, published authors seemed impossibly brilliant to me. How did they hold novel-sized stories in their brains? I couldn’t fathom it. This is evident in my first draft and in the second and third drafts, too. I wrote like I was driving in the dark with the headlights on, seeing only what was directly in front of me. I revised the same way.
Not anymore. Sometime over the year year my mind expanded. It all fits. The whole story, all the characters and their various backstories and motivations. I can hop from the middle to the end and back to the beginning without flipping wildly through my stack of notecards.
Mind you, I’m not brilliant yet. The notecards are essential for keeping track of all the little details. And the writing still isn’t easy. But it’s easier than last time. And all it took was practice: the process of beginning and finishing, of studying the craft and then beginning again.
My brain grew. How cool is that? It makes me feel powerful. It reminds me of the potential we all have to continue to grow and learn, to get smarter and stronger. It reminds me to keep reaching because all those hours I’ve put in do matter. They made a difference. They made me better.