GoodStuff     At present, I am not a novelist. I am a writer. I have produced manuscripts, some of them very long, but I have not produced a novel despite the mind-altering propaganda-like encouragement to the contrary from the Office of Letters and Light and the NaNoWriMo.
     Why, if I have written manuscripts of up to and beyond 50k-words, am I not a novelist? Because to have a novel, I must have a finished manuscript; what I have is rough draft. I do not have a novel. I have various stories, at various stages of completion. I even have one rough draft that is nearly done…as a rough draft, but I do not have a novel. What I have is an unfinished manuscript.
     To be clear, a finished manuscript is one that has been revised and rewritten to completion, not simply one that happens to have a beginning, middle and an end or one that has only been proofread and edited for spelling and grammar.
     Even though I have been an English teacher for 25 years, even though I have written since I was 10 years old, even though I have taken various courses in creative writing, even though I advise young writers, my rough drafts are most decidedly not novels.
     My rough drafts are certainly not publishable. To become so will require painstaking and multiple revisions, not simply cursory proofreading, but honest changes that make my manuscripts better, more readable, up to snuff and worthy of publication—with tight story lines, empathetic characters and interesting prose that moves a reader onward with euphony and economy. A truly finished manuscript will take rewrite after rewrite, drastic changes, conservative additions and heart breaking deletions; it will take time and effort.
     I will not attempt to publish my present manuscripts via an E-publisher or a vanity-press, I will not send off a query or advocate for them at a conference, convention or weekend-retreat because they are but rough drafts, unfinished, and crap which I have no business muddying up publication waters with. They are “under the bed” stories and essays in the craft, stepping stones toward something greater. I understand that I must not fall in love with my writing and think it perfect or “done”. I will not get over-excited and publish my manuscripts before their time without carefully considering the writer’s craft, what little I know of it and how much I need to learn. I will not use reverse psychology and be taken in by the self-deception that a rough draft is a finished product. I will not confuse proofreading or editing with revision and rewriting. Fitzgerald rewrote This Side of Paradise three times; he rewrote and revised The Great Gatsby almost up the moment of publication. I am not Fitzgerald? Only too true, but I’ll be damned if I’ll seduce myself into believing I can do anything less… or better by simply skimming for bad grammar.
     I love writing. I want to write well. Of course, I want to publish, but I want to publish good stuff, stuff that people will enjoy reading and want to read more of, stuff of quality that will honor and further the craft I love so much.
     At present, I am not a novelist. I am a writer.