Part of my learning process of writing a novel has been appreciating just what such an undertaking actually means. I had a serious think about my fiction writing the other day, and this is the grand tally over the years:
- One complete adult novel - 2007 onwards
- Three complete short stories currently ‘out in the field’- 2010 onwards
- Three adult ideas that each only made it as far as three chapters, with not even a chapter plan between them. - 2002 - 2006
- Two complete illustrated children’s picture books (one too short) - 1997 - 2000
- One first draft of a finished mid-grade children’s novel (although also short in actual word-count, I think) - 1990 - 1991
- Umpteen fun and false starts in all sizes and guises. - 1982 onwards
So really the current novel is the first – the first that I have planned, plotted, sweated, slaved and whooshed its way to creation and back again. (I did work bloody hard on the children’s picture book stories though.)
I’m grateful to all the other ideas as they have each helped me get this far, but I am deluding myself to think that any were actual finished novels – not in the grand novelly scheme of things.
So this is an interesting thought to have, and I’ll only whisper it once in case it gives me indigestion.
This current novel might not be the first one that gets published. It could be the practice novel for the better one I have yet to write.
Of course, I will cry buckets if that happens. I will declaim life is not fair; I will stare tragically into space ‘at all times’, and I will adopt a pathetic sigh. But thinking about it, as much as I love and adore this novel, it is unusual for a ‘first’ novel to get published. And as much as I hope my novel may be an exception, it may not, to be honest with you.
I’m not at this stage giving up on it. In fact, I am about to give it the best chance of its life.
*cue dramatic pause*
*cue annoying change of subject*
Funnily enough, there is something rather liberating about thinking that the next novel – the one that takes all these lessons and graduates with a PHD - could be the idea that makes it. But maybe that's because I'm close to sending this one off again (end of June, I am thinking) and the thought of it makes me feel slightly sick.
Perhaps we need to adapt that old saying – 'every day and in every way our writing is getting better and better.' Say it with me!
Do you have any full-length novels hiding away in a drawer?