On Failing Forward: revision literally is everything


It took me 3 years  and 7 drafts to get Look Past right. What exists now is a 288-page story that is fine-tuned and honed to as perfect as I’m ever going to get it. It’s my best work, but possibly not for the reason you think.

People often ask me, “Which is you best book?” It’s unsettling because I know my answer is going to sound so cliched: I can’t choose. That’s like asking me to pick a favorite child. Not gonna happen.

So when I say that Look Past  is my best work, it’s because it was so much work to complete, and because it pushed me so far as a writer. Yes, Tap Out was one hell of a learning curve, but that makes sense. I believe most people assume that the writing gets easier as you go. Not so. At least for me. If anything, it’s gotten more difficult.

I’m constantly trying to one-up myself. I want to be able to see new stories, new perspectives, and then try different ways of approaching how I translate them into novels. I believe that is how any pro stays on top of his or her game–by challenging himself or herself, by taking risks.

But as so often happens when taking risks and gambling on oneself, you lose. I lost big time with my first two stabs at Look Past. Each failure was accompanied by comments from my agent akin to: “There’s a story here, but you haven’t figured out how to tell it.”

And then I did.

That’s how writing goes for me. I try, I fail, try again, and keep at it until I figure it all out. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that as Look Past is about to hit shelves, I’m working on another story, and guess what…I’m failing big time.

Yup, on this third iteration, I flat-out focused too much on one element and forgot the rest of them. I did not adhere to my previous editor’s adage of “seeing the forest and the trees.” (still solid, Lisa Cheng).

So, yeah, it’s tough to have failed, but it’s only temporary. I’ll figure it out. That’s literally my job. And I’m so fortunate to have the space I do. Taking risks and “failing forward” is fundamental for growth, and so when I finally get this one right, I have to believe it will be even better than Look Past.

Which, right now, feels impossible. But the only way for you to find out is if you first read Look Past 😉 You’ve got 22 days until its arrival and I hope you’re ready for awesomeness.

I mean that. Objectively speaking, this is one hell of a great story. And if you don’t believe me, check out this review from Goodreads. The opening line alone sells it.

So, here’s to failing now for a greater success later. I look forward to making a mess of things, so that I can clean them up and present them to you, all shiny and wonderful.