Time Changes Everything… in Life and Writing

An overused phrase says it all. Just like a new day, “I’m baaaaack!”

After two different vacation trips to two different lakes, spending time with two different groups of our family, I’m refreshed, rejuvenated and raring to get back into routine. Sort of. I’m not quite ready to rare yet. My brain is still in lake mode, savouring memories.

Daybreak on our lake. (I took this from the bedroom window and promptly went back to bed!)

This past week we trucked into our Cariboo cabin.  To get there we leave the main highway behind, then a secondary paved road, twenty-three kilometers of gravel logging road, several more kilometers of dirt road, before finally reaching the last few kilometers of the somewhat overgrown home stretch, where the guys (my husband, son and a grandson) had to cut out three downed trees with the chainsaw.

Old logging road.
The last leg of the road to our lakeside cabin.
Yes, this is part of our road.

For several days we lounged, read, ate lots, spent time in and on the lake, and still had time to build a much-needed storage shed. I also coerced DH to take a drive so I could photograph a favourite haunt… a derelict log building that has stood in the middle of our nowhere since before I began going there as a young child. (I refuse to specify exactly how long ago that was!)

I knew it would happen some day, but it was still a disappointment to discover the roof’s supporting log beam had finally collapsed.

Time brings changes… some good, some not. The inevitable disintegration of this wonderful old building hasn’t changed its beauty, only the way in which it is perceived. It can no longer serve its intended function.

It’s a lot like the effect of time and revision on a novel-in-progress. If you’re a novelist, think about how the perception of a manuscript’s early draft changes after we’ve left it and gone on to write something else. After only a short time, returning to it reveals a few weaknesses. Nothing that tweaking won’t fix, right? We’re convinced it still adequately conveys the shiny idea that originally inspired our creative hearts.

The longer we’re away from it, however, the more problems we notice. Leave it until after we’ve written three or four more novels and reading through it makes us blush. Our hearts begin to skitter in dismay as the amateur writing taunts us with its weaknesses. We cringe to realize others may have seen its meandering plot, common clichés, and one-dimensional characters. Our dreams for it come crashing down.

There’s a reason why established authors, editors and writing instructors suggest a first novel rarely sees publication. Its structure is often too unstable to withstand the major renovation it requires, but it takes time before we can perceive and accept that reality. Sometimes the best thing we can do is let it disappear into the ground, grieve its loss, smile a bit at the pleasure and experience its writing provided, and at the end of the day, move on.

Sunset on our lake

Do you agree with me, or not? What’s your experience? Was your first novel publishable, or, if you’re still writing it, do you believe it will be?



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

11 thoughts on “Time Changes Everything… in Life and Writing

  1. Beautiful photographs. 🙂

    My first novel was NOT publishable. But I love the story and hope for the chance to rewrite it someday.

  2. So glad to see you back! Love the gorgeous pictures and so glad you had time away. I haven’t written a novel yet – – – about to begin one. I’m being realistic though 🙂

  3. It took me 7 years to write my first novel and it’s definitely not publishable. Thank goodness. But I learned tons and the process hooked me hard. I love writing!

    So happy you’re back. I have to get off the computer now because DS has to write an 8 hour construction course, but I had to say howdy and welcome you back. Yay. Glad you had a great time. Love the photos. TTYL.

  4. Welcome back! Gorgeous photos of the lake..

    Every once in awhile I go back over old novels, thinking maybe there’s something worthwhile, but I still haven’t been able to make myself work on them. The new ideas keep beckoning to me. I follow much too easily..lol

  5. Thanks for the returning welcome. 🙂 It’s been a great month. Although I haven’t done much work on my w.i.p., I’ve edited a friend’s book and worked on several blog posts. I’m happy to be home but glad that summer isn’t over quite yet … still have some things to look forward to.

  6. Lovely setting, and great post. I like your analogy of time changing everything. I don’t write novels, but my first devotional book was not publishable, even though it was the best I could do at the time. It’s fun to look back and see how we’ve grown, isn’t it?

    Thanks for your input on my blog re: eReaders.

  7. SO nice to see your name in my inbox once again. Welcome back, Carol – and I’m PROUD of you for going back to bed after taking that gorgeous photo. Sounds like a wonderful few weeks of rest and beauty – just what our souls need. Glad to see you back in these parts, however. :>)

  8. Sad to see that the roof gave way. 😦

    My first novel was definitely not publishable, even though I thought at the time that it might’ve been. However, it was fun, and a valuable learning experience, and it got me hooked on novel-writing, so hardly a wasted effort. Now, I’m hoping fourth time’s a charm….

  9. The lake photo is so stunning! Glad you got up to take it!!! I enjoyed seeing your dilapidated cabin too! I am sad about my barn because it will have to come down for safety reasons.

    I have not written anything but my stacks of journals I feel the same way about. Of course I was 16 when I started…

    I like reading about the writing process. It seems God has been calling me toward writing more. I’m a rookie…

    Thanks for visiting my blog today! 🙂

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