I have been working on my first novel, Young Gods, for what seems like forever now. I took up the NaNo challenge, and wrote the first draft in just 16 days - which I thought was actually rather slower than the norm.
Was I shocked to find out that other writers may take more than a year to write the first draft, and then several years to edit and rewrite.
And then, learning what it actually means to go from first draft to second draft has also been an education. It turns out that the second draft is not merely the first draft with all the grammar and language errors corrected. Instead, the second draft is often a complete rewrite of the story, with the first draft merely acting like a road map.
I can now, finally, see why the rewrite takes so long. With the first draft, I followed the story, I did what it wanted me to do. I was merely the conduit, my fingers the tool releasing the story into the world. With the rewrite, it is almost like taking your overgrown rotweiler - who has been allowed to sleep on your favourite couch for years and years - to obedience school and training it to behave more like a dog than a wolf. It takes a lot of time and attention to carve something legible out of the chaotic matter that is the first draft.
I was, for a very long time, convinced that I could go to university and learn how to be a writer. I now know that I would never have learnt these things at Uni, not in a million years. I am just not entirely sure how other writers learnt these things. I have read all the books about writing, and done research on-line, and spoken to other writers, and, again, found myself a couple of steps behind others.
note to self: learn to listen and play by some of the rules. not all, just some.