WIP, in case you didn’t know, is an acronym for work in progress. Most often, it refers to the manuscript a writer is working on at any given time. It can be either a full manuscript in edits, a hashed-out draft, a few scrawls on a napkin or a thought percolating from a nest of brain cells. Used in a sentence, one might say, “My latest WIP is about cats with laser eyes taking over New York City.”
All writers have at least one WIP, but I know some who have enough to fill a grammar-school library. Not one of them is completed, but that’s because all these great ideas lack a resolution, or have a cursed saggy middle. Or the writer gave up.
Me? I have one WIP and a second one in the works. My agent has the first one; the second lives on my computer in several different forms. And herein lie the problem.
I’m writing a four-book speculative science fiction series. Book one, my agent tells me, still needs more changes. Book two…well, I’ve come to that dreaded middle. Argh.
When I peek at my first draft, a rash of embarrassment breaks out on my cheeks. Simply put, it sucks. Yet that was the one I pitched and got accepted. No one in their right mind would publish it. My agent sent me back to the ol’ MacBook Air to rewrite it. I’m up to ten times now. And after I see her in a couple of weeks, I’ve been told to expect more.
Yes, it is, quite frustrating.
In a few dark moments, I wondered if I’d ever live long enough to see this thing published. I’ve read other sci-fi books that are pure drivel. Yet somehow, they manage to line the bookshelves of stores and homes. What am I doing wrong? What am I missing? What’s the story here?
Or is that the issue? That story can use a little beefing up, perhaps?
And speaking of old, my MacBook Air has now graced its tenth birthday and I really need to replace it. Sure, it works just fine for writing. But as a source for the internet? Not so much. Poor thing takes about five nanoseconds longer to load. The battery’s just about worn out. But I feel like I’d be betraying this faithful friend who’s been there for me, version after version after version of my WIP. It’ll still serve as a good second laptop, maybe even one I’ll take away if I ever can afford to get away. I’ve thought about taking it in for service to see if there’s anything to be done to prolong its life a bit. At least until I finish this WIP so the poor thing can at least say it has that accomplishment under its belt.
Then, of course, there’s this: I’m not good enough. Who do I think I am to think that I can write?
Self-doubt is the badge of many a writer, myself included. Why just today, as I changed the sheets on my bed, I tried to convince myself that my pipe dream of published author was merely that: a hazy wisp of a hope that might never manifest into a hefty advance, New York Times bestseller and HBO Sunday night series. Or Netflix (for the record, I’d be happy with either. Hey, dream big or go home!).
When I last spoke to my agent, she was busy opening her second office and had just signed a major client (you’d all know who it was if I mentioned the name kind of big). So I know I’m lucky to have her. Yet, when I sit down with her in two weeks, the dread factor’s squirming in my gut.
I’m trying to remain optimistic. Good God, something positive has to happen to me. It’s been such a rough haul that I’m clasping at straws to find the upswing of events. But until I have a better grasp on what lies ahead for me, here I sit, staring at the same few paragraphs on my second WIP, wondering what I’ll have to change yet again because it doesn’t agree with what happened in the first. If at all.
Meanwhile, because there’s nothing else in my writerverse, I’ll keep at it, grinding away at the plot, hoping my characters don’t get too angry with me for changing their storylines. Because one day, it is my sincerest goal to bring them to life in someone else’s readerverse.