I am in the process of writing the draft of a novel right now, and it's a complicated and scary process. However, I am also in a fiction writing class this semester that involves submitting what you are working on to the rest of the class for workshop sessions where you receive critiques and all kinds of helpful suggestions for what's working and what you could be doing better.
I am not an outliner when it comes to writing fiction, which is both fun and a downfall, since I have a lot of ideas and characters, but I can't quite get everything to lay out clearly in a nice pattern. After spending time today in workshop being asked really important questions about my work in progress and realizing I didn't have all of the answers that I needed, I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed about what's going to happen next in my little novel-to-be. One of my classmates had a similar experience today in trying to figure out the logistics of his novel, and when the class was over, he turned to me and said, "Well, we both have a lot of holes in our stories!"
I just laughed and said, "Yay for swiss cheese stories!" It was after that exchange and the conversations in class today that I realized truly how helpful this course has been, and how sad and helpless I will probably feel after this semester when I can't bring my work to my classmates (now friends) and get honest feedback to help make my work better, and in exchange hopefully do the same for them.
But in the meantime, I am appreciating the value of being able to identify for others and receive with gratitude the holes in our stories. They do say that cheese gets better with age, right?