I haven’t posted lately. The nice thing about being relatively unknown is there is no actual pressure to produce content because no one is waiting for you to post. Each blog post is a shout in the void and, for an anxious person like me, that works out just fine.
With that established, I’ll tell you (my nonexistent audience) what I have been up to.
I kinda-sorta finished editing my first novel. And it’s…well, it’s not what all that I want it to be. I’m not saying that to garner sympathy of any kind or publicly flog myself with my clear and evident insecurities, of which I possess in abundance. I’m saying this because it’s a truth universally acknowledged that all first novels are kind of crappy.
That’s why I have one of those large, plastic bins next to my desk. All my middling, experimental or dissatisfying work ends up in there. Just like my first poems and short stories are all safely hidden in the bottom of that bin, to be pulled out when I want to convince myself that in all the time I’ve spent, well, being alive, there is some material evidence of my existence, beyond the launching of my DNA into the human gene pool. So I almost stuffed this bit of writing down there, too.
But there’s something in this manuscript which I believe, with more polishing, might be worth sharing. There’s also a lot to build on – I’m thinking a family saga of interconnected stories, the first four contemporary, followed by a side series of historical novels. I think I could pull it off, and if the conventional wisdom is true, the more I write, the better I will hopefully get.
Such was my optimism that I sent my manuscript, after a professional edit, and a few passes through a beta group, to one (just one) publishing company. Instead of blanketing the world with my magnum opus, I’m playing this game with myself. I want to see what happens. I might get a rejection (the most likely outcome). I might get a revise and rewrite (a solid win). Or something bigger. Who knows.
The game is simply – when I (most likely) get it back, I’ll attack it again. And send it out, this time to perhaps three publishers. Or five. Because, for once, I have something that I think might not be half-bad.
This is the part where I should add value to your lives. I enjoyed this blog post, which isn’t too old, called Know Thyself…By Writing Your First Novel. It’s a bit abstract, in the sense that it gives you the rah-rah about writing your novel, but doesn’t actually give you the how. That’s what all those courses and craft posts and organizational strategies are for. But the article does position writing as a path to self-knowledge, which is not an entirely a bad approach, especially if you aren’t aspiring to add your voice to the great Western Canon or whatever, but you simply want to tell a story.
Just don’t be so quick to dump your stuff in your giant, plastic bin.