Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Seasons of Novel Writing

It’s spring in my corner of the world. 

Spring blooms

Buds burst forth in greens, whites, and cherry reds. Yellow daffodils open their petals and reach for the heavens. Each morning, I wake to a chorus of birds outside my window instead of the usual rhythmic beeping, or toddler cry. And every evening, the sun lingers just a little longer.

I love this season of new life and hope. It’s a glorious time of year.

Yet, as I pen these words, I know that many of you reside in different corners of the globe, and though I’m experiencing the newness of spring, you may be feeling winter’s grip.  At this very moment, you and I walk through very different seasons.

And isn’t that how it is in our writing lives as well? From the birth of a story idea and growth of a novel, to barren times of waiting and the joy of a book contract, we writers know the ebb and flow of the seasons. 

Some of you may be walking through the season of spring along with me. You’re new to novel writing, or you’ve stumbled upon a new story idea. You’re enthralled with the newness, the potential. Yet, your story is just a seedling. It needs tender care, careful watering, plenty of sunshine. And once it’s written, it needs weeding and pruning—ruthless editing. Overall, this season is a fabulous one ripe with possibilities.

Perhaps you’re in the thick of summer. Your novel is a full-fledged story complete with flowers and fruit. It’s a masterpiece, a beautiful work of art, and you’re thrilled. You’ve spent days toiling under sweltering sun, crafting the characters, weaving the plotline, developing dialogue. Can there be a more beautiful baby?  You’re ready to show your work to a critique partner or editor. They’re just going to love it.

Maybe you’ve taken the plunge and shown your work to a faithful critique partner who tells you your story has potential but yada, yada. The returned manuscript’s sidebar is peppered with comment boxes, and that paper is baptized in red ink. It’s the first time you realize your story isn’t perfect; in fact, its flaws are now evident as a rather large pimple, and you enter a season of winter. It’s a time of reworking, rewriting, rethinking everything. An icy chill grips your heart. Doubts assail. Do I have any talents at all? Do I have what it takes to be an author? You pray, seek out a friend's encouragement, and cry for awhile. But at the end of the day, you smooth out the wrinkles in your shirt and your story.

A few of you may be in the glorious harvest of fall. After much perseverance, hard work, and support from others, you’ve made the revisions. Your story now sparkles—it’s ripe for the plucking. An agent notices your work and then a publisher. You now hold a contract in your hand, or your book is about to release. It’s a glorious time of celebration.

Yet, I imagine, that even after obtaining an agent, or receiving a contract, you may still experience all the novel writing seasons anew. You may once again taste the newness of spring, the heat of summer, the chill of winter, and the joy of fall. And I’m certain I will too.

For now, I press on in this season of spring.

What season of writing are you experiencing? What season is it in your corner of the world?

Melanie N. Brasher is a full time mama of two boys and wife to an incredible husband who understands her bicultural background. She moonlights as a fiction and freelance writer, crafting stories and articles toward justice and change. She's a member of American Christian Fiction writers and a contributing blogger for Ungrind. Though she's an aspiring author, she'll never quit her day job.


  1. Wonderful analogy, Melanie. I have been enjoying the thrill of a new story the last few days. It's a short story that will be part of a collection that is nearing completion, so I'm not sure if that is spring or summer. A bit of both, I guess, but I am definitely enjoying it. All the best to you on your writing adventure.

  2. LeAnne, that's great that you're enjoying both spring and summer! It looks like it's a bit of a harvest as well! Congrats!

  3. Melanie I have several stories in my head. I believe, I'm in the Spring. Yes its Spring in my world too. I love your metaphor of seasons. How did you get into freelance?