WWU - Novel Writing

Writing a book is challenging. Initially, I never thought it would be possible, sort of like watching someone free-climb a rock wall and you look at them and say, ‘nope’. Well, I was tired of saying ‘nope’, so based on a conversation I had with my friend, I made an outline of major plot points for a story, researched average word length for novels, and wrote 1,000 words during work days. That’s what I did starting in July and by November, I had over 90,000 words - my starting point. I went back through it myself as it needed substantial editing. It was interesting to look back on what I had wrote at the beginning versus later on, realizing that I had a better sense of where the story was going and who my characters were as the novel progressed, obviously. When I started, anything could have happened. I was building a world and there were no plot lines to connect, yet; I was free. 

I’ve never considered myself to be a creative person, in terms of music, art, or creating something from nothing. But dammit, I wanted to write a novel. So I did it. I hired an editor who is not only making my story tighter, but is also asking me a lot of questions which while writing, never occurred to me. Rewriting is an enjoyable and yet frustrating process. If I change a plot-line in chapter 10, I need to remember what other things will be affected by it, and how to change those based on the initial change I made. It’s a delicate balance which I’m figuring out as I go. 

My editor keeps asking me how I did it, and what drove me to write it. FIrst, I had a lot of time on my hands at work. Second, I just did it. I literally wrote 1,000 words every day whether or not I wanted to. Some days were harder than others, and some days I had no idea where the story was going, but I wrote anyway. For me, it’s sort of like cooking. You can’t start unless you have the ingredients, and you can’t shape a novel without words on a page. I’ve edited, rewritten, and reorganized the words I wrote so much that even looking at my first draft would be almost unrecognizable. 

Has it been frustrating? To be honest, not really. I’ve really enjoyed writing and shaping this novel and hope one day, people will enjoy reading it. Would I do it again? For sure, as soon as the current one is completely wrapped up. I’m trying to write a short-story while still going over my novel edits and it’s difficult for me to keep 2 ‘creative’ projects going at once. I need to dive in, be involved with one creative project, and then detach before I move on to the next. I’m also aware that writing about writing is about as pretentious as it gets. Don’t worry, I haven’t started wearing a French beret and doing slam poetry yet. 

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Degen Hill

About: Degen Hill is a travel junkie, gym enthusiast, and avid writer who currently resides in Beijing. He is a 28-year-old graduate of Eastern Washington University where he studied Spanish & Communications and quickly learned that life's too short to not travel. Degen is aggressively realistic, open-minded, sarcastic, curious, and results-driven.

Currently: Degen graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's of Chinese Politics and Foreign Policy in Beijing. He is now a reporter and editor for the political magazine China Today (今日中国). His Chinese language ability is a work in progress and enjoys the challenge. He is currently living in Andingmen (Right above the Forbidden City).