One thing I know to be true as a writer: you are constantly cycling through moods about your writing. On Monday it can all seem worthless, the metaphors too transparent, the dialogue stilted; on Tuesday you decide it's maybe not so bad after all, that there's actually a few diamonds in the rough; Wednesday morning, you gain more confidence and rewrite the clunky parts; by Wednesday night that confidence has veered into smugness and has gotten in the way of being productive. In other words, feeling really bad and really good about your writing are equally dangerous. The sweet spot is when you feel cautiously optimistic. You get work done, and it's good work — not perfect by any means, but it's solid and heartfelt.
It's with that same cautious optimism that I want to share this with you: I just finished the first draft of my novel. It's not the same novel I started writing two years ago but it's the same type of story (family-centric, set in the Pacific Northwest). As for that first attempt, I scrapped it and started again from scratch four months ago. This new version is a novel-in-stories threading through a character's life, from childhood to her last years. I once read that you should write the kind of book you'd want to read (as opposed to what's trendy or what you think your friends/parents/editor wants to read). That may just be one of the best pieces of advice about writing I've come across. It's freeing. It means the difference between the act of writing being a chore and being a pleasure. It doesn't make writing easier, but it makes it more fulfilling.
So. Now: a big breath. And onto the second draft.