Internet, author Beth Revis is an amazing kickass.
Because of this:
I had seen this video a while ago, maybe a year. At that time, it resonated with me, but not in a soul-shaking, revelation kind of way.
Beth Revis, the author of the New York Times bestselling Across the Universe series, talked about failure.
Before she wrote Across the Universe, she wrote ten–TEN–novels. But the thing is, she said–and this was the part that hit me the most–that she thought each of those ten novels was “the one”. She edited them meticulously, poured her her love and her soul into each of those novels, and she edited the absolute crap out of them. Each. One. Of. Them.
None of those ten novels ended up getting published.
She showed the stack upon stack of papers that reached about two feet high, the legal pads full of notes and edit letters. She showed the three drafts, the thousand pages that made up the comparatively slim, small book of A Million Suns (her sequel).
And I saw a woman who gave everything she had into her writing. She took her energy and passion and tenacity and fragility and wove it into each and every one of her books. She didn’t crank them out like scientific papers or magazine articles. She genuinely thought that each of them was the one.
And that was the part the hit me and struck me and slapped me in the face.
I will admit a secret. This past week, in preparation for this online conference I was taking, I had rewritten an entire novel in two weeks, and two-thirds of that novel in one week. I wrote 37,000 words in the course of eight days. I set my alarm for 3:00 AM every night. I was working like a mad, crazy scientist on the brink of discovering a new set of atomic laws (well, as crazy and furious as I could get in the wee sluggish hours of the morning. )
I loved my TeaNovel. I loved it so much to rewrite it over and over again, four times and rack up about 300,000 words over it, to spend my days worrying about my plot and wondering if it would all work out.
And I was worrying that all this would go to nothing, all of it would slip away if/when my novel ultimately gets rejected.
And I’m still afraid.
I shouldn’t do this. I should be a good high school student and do Stuff that Will Get Me Good Grades and Stuff that Will Get Me into College. I should go watch movies and go squee over Taylor Swift and go outside more and Get A Life.
I shouldn’t be writing a novel. To tell you the truth, I’m breaking a lot of the rules I was wordlessly given.
And there is the question: is it all worth it?
Beth Revis had asked herself that question. She said that if she knew it would all be this hard when she was just starting out, she would have said no. That it wouldn’t be worth all the work, all the struggle and the angst and the heartbreak.
She says yes.
And her ending words are, “My name is Beth Revis. And today, I didn’t talk about failure at all. I talked about success.”
Thank you, Beth. Thank you.