Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A Lesson a 6-Year-Old Should Be Able to Understand (#IWSG February 2019)

The other day my son was working on a drawing of Sonic the Hedgehog. I thought he was doing a great job, creating an image that is perfectly on the level expected for a 6-year-old. He, on the other hand, was not at all satisfied with it. He complained the nose was not right, the ears were too big, etc. Eventually he started to get frustrated and upset, and started erasing and re-drawing things and was ruining the overall picture.

I told him I loved the drawing and asked if I could keep it. I said if there were parts of it he wasn't happy with then he could change them next time. I told him everything we make, every task we complete, is a learning experience. Nothing is ever perfect; we should be proud of what we did well, and look for the things we can improve in the future. My wife and I have been trying to impress on him lately that improvement and rewards come from hard work, and that there are triumphs and setbacks every step of the way. I'm not sure if he believed me, but I really struck a chord with myself.

The past few months I've been working on a new manuscript, a sequel to Hell Comes to Hogtown that I had put off writing for two years. The reason I put it off, which was confirmed as soon as I started writing it, was because I knew it was going to be hard. I can see what I want it to be, but the pieces just aren't going together the way I expect them to. I knew this was going to happen because I encountered a similar issue when I wrote the original. I had fun writing the initial draft, but when that was done it took a lot of work to put it together in a sensical order. I had to almost completely re-write the story in the second and third drafts.

It's a working title.

I'm about a third of the way through the sequel and I'm still fighting the choice I need to make: Either I just have fun now, letting the story and characters go in weird and unexpected ways but with the knowledge I'm going to have to fix it all later; or I force the story into a rigid narrative structure, and let everything feel flat and boring now and hope I can instill life back into the characters in the re-writes. No matter what I choose, I'm setting myself up for more work down the line.

I need to take the same advice I gave my son, the advice that even a six-year old should be able to understand: This is a learning experience. Be happy with what I'm getting done now, and when this step is done, take what I learned and use it next time. The way I see it, when I finish this first draft one of three things are going to happen:
  1. In the best care scenario, it will turn out better than I'm expecting.
  2. It may turn out badly, but fixable. I already know there are parts I will have to change, but other parts that I'm quite happy with that I should be able to use. The first draft will take some work to salvage, but there will be decent story in there somewhere. Fixing it will teach me things that will make my job easier next time.
  3. It will turn out to be terrible and unusable. And that's fine. I will finally know that this isn't going to work, and I can put these characters and this story to bed and move onto one of the other thousand ideas I want to write.
It's a hard lesson to learn when you're in the thick of it. I thought I had learned it last time, but apparently I'm still working out the details. It will come, eventually. And maybe this really is my brain's way of telling me that this book doesn't need a sequel, that I should put it down and move onto something else. But I've got to try, just to be sure.


In case you missed it, the cover for the latest IWSG Anthology (featuring yours truly) was released last week. Here it is again in all it's tentacled-faced glory:

Are you interested in helping to promote the new book, by sharing your blog for a guest post as we get closer to the release date of April 30? If so, please check out the Blog Hop Signup below:

Here are the full details on the book:

Masquerade: Oddly Suited

An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology
Release date – April 30, 2019
Young Adult Fiction: Romance - General/Paranormal/Contemporary
Print ISBN 9781939844644
EBook ISBN 9781939844651

Find love at the ball…

Can a fake dating game show lead to love? Will a missing key free a clock-bound prince? Can a softball pitcher and a baseball catcher work together? Is there a vampire living in Paradise, Newfoundland? What’s more important—a virtual Traveler or a virtual date to the ball?

Ten authors explore young love in all its facets, from heartbreak to budding passion. Featuring the talents of L.G. Keltner, Jennifer Lane, C.D. Gallant-King, Elizabeth Mueller, Angela Brown, Myles Christensen, Deborah Solice, Carrie-Anne Brownian, Anstice Brown, and Chelsea Marie Ballard.

Hand-picked by a panel of agents and authors, these ten tales will mystify and surprise even as they touch your heart. Don your mask and join the party…

MASQUERADE: ODDLY SUITED contains the following tales of romance:

Oddly Suited, LG Keltner
Behind the Catcher’s Mask, Jennifer Lane
Fearless Heart, Deborah Solice
The Dark Charade, CD Gallant-King (that's me!)
The Cog Prince, Elizabeth Mueller
Remedy, Chelsea Marie Ballard
Charleston Masquerade, Carrie-Anne Brownian 
Flower of Ronda, Myles Christensen
Sea of Sorrows, Anstice Brown
A Diver’s Ball, Angela Brown

The first Wednesday of every month is officially Insecure Writer’s Support Group day. Writers post their thoughts on their blogs, talking about their doubts and the fears they have conquered. It's a chance for writers to commiserate and offer a word of encouragement to each other. Check out the group at


J.H. Moncrieff said...

Congrats on the anthology release!

That's a great lesson to teach your son--and to take to heart. I think all of us struggle with "Does this suck?" syndrome and "No, but really, does it suck?" syndrome when in the midst of a draft. What makes us stronger is pushing through it.

There is no other way. How I wish there were, but no magic writer fairies have approached me with an alternative yet.

Keep on keepin' on.

Raimey Gallant said...

Truly a great lesson. Give your son a hug for me. I needed to read this. And happy IWSG Day!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It's hard when we don't want a learning experience - we just want it done right!
Which way of writing it will be more enjoyable? Pick that path.

Jennifer Hawes said...

You can't edit a blank page. :) I agree with the advice you gave your son. You can always go back later and fix things!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Sounds like great advice that you gave your son that you should follow too. Maybe you can do a combination of letting the story go in the fun ways it wants while having some structure to save on editing later.

Sadira Stone said...

Excellent advice. Despite my weeks of planning and plotting, my characters always end up adding unexpected elements during the first draft phase, so I just expect that extensive rewrite. I wish you the best of luck tackling your second Hogtown story.

Loni Townsend said...

Ah. Making a mess and fixing it later is one of those things I know so well. In fact, that's how I typically work. ;)

How nice it'd be if everything worked perfectly on the first go. I look back at my drawings a year ago and realize how far I've come. Same with my writing. But if we did it perfectly the first time, how would we learn to take pride in our progress and efforts?

Anonymous said...


C.D. Gallant-King said...

AH! Google deleted all of my old comments from every post on my site. I thought that wasn't happening until April?

(Not much I can do about it, but it still came as a shock)

Liz Hinds said...

Good advice to your son. Shame we don't listen to our own advice sometimes. I've just started a sequel which seemed like a good idea at the time ... now I'm wondering if it's just stale. So maybe we should both just write and worry about it later?

Chrys Fey said...

Great story and lesson for all of us. Every story we write is a learning experience.

Tyler-Rose Counts said...

I think it's good for all of us to try to remember that drafts are drafts and that there will always be more work no matter what we do. I think overall, I prefer the weird detours instead of forcing it to be something it doesn't want to be. You never know what you might discover on one of those twisty forest paths :)

Caitlin Coppola said...

I say go for it! Write what you enjoy, what makes you happy. If it doesn't work out, okay. At least you enjoyed writing what you did. (I'm thinking it's going to be option 1: better than you're expecting.)

And good parenting lessons! Got to teach them young it's okay not to be perfect.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

Ah writer fairies. Maybe if I drink more absinthe I'll see them again...

C.D. Gallant-King said...

That's cool, he'll probably assume you're a distant relative ;-)

cleemckenzie said...

The advice to your son is something all of us should pay attention to. I needed it today, so thanks.

Yvonne Ventresca said...

Best of luck with the new story and congrats on the anthology.

Gina Gao said...

Good luck on the story!

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I had better not sign up for the release-day blog hop, as we’ll be on the road. But congrats, and I still love that cover.

As for your book—I think you’d better follow your imagination where it leads and the heck with the plan, because I think it’s easier to fix a plot with issues than to breathe life into a story and characters that sit there like a haddock stranded on the beach at high tide. Not easy either way, but the former stinks less.

Tamara Narayan said...

I feel the same about the novel I'm working on. I decided to do a more detailed outline because writing "Pantser" style was getting painfully slow. We'll see what happens.

My kids have been in that "must be perfect" mode a few times. It can be painful to watch. Yet I find in paintings and drawings, the mistakes we make are sometimes the most compelling parts of the image.

Nick Wilford said...

I do believe there;'s a middle ground between plotting and pantsing. Have an idea where you want to go but leave it open to surprise yourself. The spark has to be there first - I don't much like the idea of trying to resuscitate the flat, lifeless version!

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Great lesson! And timely, too :-)

Ronel visiting for Feb's IWSG Day Being an Insecure Writer -- And Happy About It

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi CD - a 6 year old can't put off things for 'a while' - that's far too long - he wants it now. Great thoughts though and I'm sure he'll learn from you both. Oh gosh G+ swallowed all your comments ... that's a right pain - I feel for you.

Good to see the anthology - god luck with it ... cheers Hilary

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