What I’ve learned

I have three novels and a novelette out now, and I am currently working on The Gifted 3 (Title still in the works). It has been a lot of work, but it has been fun. I’ll admit that some days I dread hitting the keyboard, but other days it is a great motivation to get out of bed.

So what have I learned? Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. I knew this already. Really. But having to live it out is not easy. Not with two other jobs going. My teaching job keeps me on my toes, but I love it. I am really enjoying my students this year. They are fun and original. They are real, and they help me stay real. I also love pastoring. The people in my church are wonderful, and I enjoy preaching, listening, learning, and loving them. They also keep me real, and honest.

Then there is this writing thing. Originally it was a challenge to myself. I had done NaNoWriMo for four years and I was about to do a fifth. But I wanted motivation for this one. I didn’t just want to write another first draft no one would read, so I told my kids I was doing this one for them. I would write, revise, and finally publish it so my kids could read it and it would be publicly available. Well, here’s how that went.

Time it took me to finish my first book

  • First draft of The Gifted-11 days
  • The rest of the eight drafts-9 months
  • Creating a cover I liked-about 2 months
  • Learning how to format the book and figure out Amazon’s system for both Kindle and Paperback versions-about a month and a half

Granted, those nine months I was revising, I was also creating the cover art and figuring out Amazon’s system. So in all it just took 9 months and 11 days.

But I learned some things. I learned how to use Amazon’s system so I wouldn’t need to do that over and over. I also became quite adept at using GIMP, a free, and might I add, powerful photo manipulation and graphic art program. And most importantly, I learned what it really means to revise something. Not just throw something out there, but revise for ideas. Then do it again and again. Then to revising at the sentence level, because people want a good story, but they also want it written well. Then editing for mistakes and on to beta readers.

I learned a lot, but most of all I learned this: I really like it. Writing became more than just a hobby. There were scenes I wrote that by the time I was done I was in tears. This happened several times. There were times I wrote a character that helped me understand myself better. There were times I felt that what I wrote actually mattered.

I enjoy writing, and while it began as a hobby, or a challenge, it has become much more. Does it pay the bills? Not at all. Does it add to my life? Absolutely. It makes everything else I do that much sweeter.

About Aaron K. Redshaw

Aaron's goal for writing is to create believable characters in fantasy or science fiction worlds that do not leave out the element of faith in a personal and loving God. He is an English teacher at a large public high school, the senior co-pastor of New Hope Church in Scotts Valley, CA (newhopesv.org), and a father and husband in a wonderful family which he hopes to someday patent.
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