Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Any previous, guv’nor?

On my blog profile I had put that I was working on my first novel while ‘ignoring the previous three hiding in disgrace under the bed.’ But this was, in fact, wrong. I just didn’t realise it.

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?

36 comments:

KarenG said...

I have one full length novel hiding away, not even sure where it is right now. I may rewrite and revise and get it publishable but then again I'm not sure it's worth it. I think I'd rather start fresh.

Out on the prairie said...

I have a lot of hidden writings, it seems that when I keep going, each is a bit better.

Miss Good on Paper said...

It takes such courage to admit this! And it shows that you understand what it means to be a writer. It really is an act of faith; you have to have faith in that WIP even if it doesn't work out.

I think you've just inspired a new blog for me.

Good luck to you! You're on the right track. =)

-Miss GOP
www.thewritingapprentice.com

Hart Johnson said...

It's funny what huge prep this all takes, eh? I had a half a novel plus a dozen or so that petered out at between 5 and 30 pages... then I set it all aside for a decade. I came back to writing with fan fiction where i finally learned that pesky detail of planning. My first novel published with be my 7th full one, and 6 is my suspected 2nd. I haven't fully given up on any earlier than that, though only 2 of them have solid rewrite plans... I keep thinking once they start going, then they will slide at a decent speed.

Jo said...

I'm on my third full-length unpublished novel, and I have another that stalled at 55,000 words. Maybe this one will be the one... Maybe not. All I know is that I have to keep on writing. One day I will see my novel on the book shelves - I have to believe this or else why do I get up at six am every morning to do my 1,000 words before my toddler wakes up?

snafu said...

Hands up all those who do not have an unpublished novel under the bed or wherever. Yes me too, two in progress but stalled for a decent ending, several ideas frameworked and one with a great ending but no middle. It's a fun hobby but I don't have the staying power.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm not ready to give up on this one! I want to read it!!

Old Kitty said...

"Every day and in every way our writing is getting better and better"! Yay!!!!

I had one full ms but then I lost it. Well strictly speaking, I didn't but I saved the lot on (ahem) floppy disk but lost the password to be more precise. That was my 2nd full ms. What I've done now is return to my first one and this is now my current one wip. LOL!! No wonder I'm confused!

Awww lovely Jayne!! You are growing and learning as a writer and you will make it - keep writing, keep writing. Oh and BELIEVE!! Yay! Take care
x

catdownunder said...

Oh yes, several in the "bottom drawer" of the computer. Two more typescripts. One which has done the rounds of a school etc. It has taken until this year to get the nerve up to actually submit something somewhere but I am not holding my breath - just working on another one.

S.P. Bowers said...

I'm the same as you. This is the first novel that I have taken to this level. While I sometimes refer to it as my first novel I really hope the others count when people say first novels never get published.

Good luck with your "first". I hope we can both make it all the way.

Kittie Howard said...

I finally shredded an ms I wrote over a decade ago - it was more a self-help book and was out-of-date.

But when I looked at it one last time, I thought - Why didn't I push this...it's pretty good...

There's always another ring to grab, because you're a writer at heart, but don't let go of the ring you've got now.

The Las Vegas Writer said...

I live on Anne Gallagher's statement if, "I am better than I used to be". My first novel was practice, now I have a kick-ass one that is "out in the field". I will never get rid of that first one, but it will never see the light of day either :)

Kathi Oram Peterson said...

I wrote five romantic suspense novels and three middle readers before I sold my first book which was a YA time travel. Go figure. Just keep swimming and you'll get there and probably much sooner than I did. :)

Sophia Richardson said...

I have 25k from a historical fiction I started from NaNoWriMo 07 *somewhere* (I hope). Then a finished first draft over 100k I wrote between March and August last year. And now a first draft of a YA contemporary novel I wrote from March-May this year. I guess I'm not doing too badly but I wish I knew what idea to follow next so I could write something amazing. But don't we all?
- Sophia.

Claire Goverts said...

I have a few full length novels collecting virtual dust. The one I did decide I'm not touching again. It was my first complete novel draft, and mostly to show myself that I could write that much. The other few I may revisit, considering them zero drafts instead of first drafts. I'll jot down plot and character pints I like then use those to create outlines for new fresh drafts. As opposed to revising those drafts.

Maggie May said...

It is something that drives you on. I have never actually completed anything that I have written but the ideas are there and there are manuscripts lying about!
Yeah....... the next one will be a winner.
Maggie X

Nuts in May

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

As thoroughly as you seem to have plotted it and re-worked it and sweated over it, it is probably much better than most first novels are. You actually could be one of the cases where the first completed book gets published. And you've put in a lot of writing ahead of time on those other pieces you talked about.

Damyanti said...

'every day and in every way our writing is getting better and better.' ---yes!

Following you now.

Joanne said...

Hi Jayne,

I came across your blog about 3yrs ago now. You've come a long way with the novel and it's a winner, published or not. I have one other tucked in the wardrobe somewhere - started it 5-6yrs ago which will never see the light of day because I know the writing in the present novel is so much better. Keep writing. :)

Shannon Lawrence said...

I have actually finished my first full-length novel, with one having been started about a decade ago and never finished. I'm [not-so] secretly hoping my first one does get published, but at the very least it will be a learning opportunity for the next one. Good luck with your querying!

Tina @ Life is Good
and I are joining forces in another challenge. We're going to visit and comment at each of the participants, starting with the reflections post. We hope you'll join us!
Shannon @ The Warrior Muse

Rose said...

I have faith that the current novel will have a published life but I understand where you are at with this and how hard it must be. Fingers crossed, you are a great writer so you will get there

Michelle Fayard said...

OK, I'll make a confession too. I almost stopped working on the Civil War YA I finished (as if any manuscript is ever finished!) in April, because I so much wanted to see this one in print compared to other ideas I've had over the years, I thought maybe I should write something else first so the Civil War novel could be my second one and have a better chance. :)

Pat Tillett said...

I have nothing complete, but there are piles of abandonded words taking up space here. Someday...

penandpaints said...

I have quite a few, I keep thinking I'll get around to them, tos ee if I can update them and improve them(they need lots of improvement!)
I think you're right though, they are all good practice, but the one that you plan out and research and put all the time and work into is the hardest to let go of!

Talli Roland said...

I hear you! As you know, I have *whispers* several novels hiding away! :) What doesn't get us published can only make us stronger, right?

The Golden Eagle said...

I'm still rewriting the first novel I ever finished. I've got several other shorter writings, but I haven't looked at those in years.

Deniz Bevan said...

I've got about 25 years' worth! Hmm... at least three full novels, half of one, a screenplay, the first twenty pages of about ten others, a screenplay idea, two fully plotted stories that I never wrote, piles of crappy poetry, and lots and lots of short stories. I hope I'm learning with each one...

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I don't have any full length novels hiding in my cupboard, but I have loads of picture books and quite a few chapter books in there. Writing is something that takes time and patience...That old ms might make a come back at some future date. :)

Medeia Sharif said...

They're not in drawers. I deleted the ones on my old floppy disks and I shredded the hard copies. I saw no reason in keeping them when they were so rough. And I didn't figure out any way to revive them. I do have the ones dating back from 2002, when my writing truly became stronger.

Have a great weekend.

Matthew Likes Writing said...

I live in hope that one day I'll reread one of those hidden pieces and realise it is genius.

After reading this post I checked all my writing - currently a negative for genius.

Al said...

No, I took mine out and reworked it!
It turned into Veiled in Shadows :-)

Theresa Milstein said...

I do have novels hidden away! And what a great idea to think about when you wrote them.

April 2006 - Novel 1
October 2007 - Novel 2
Spring 2008 - Novel 3
January 2009 - Novel 4
March 2009 - Novel 5
(Summer 2010, huge rewrite of January novel)
April 2010 - Novel 6

April 2010 took me until April 2011 to write, with stops and starts. Now I'm about to do the editing.

We learn from each one, so our next one is better.

L.A Speedwing said...

Oh am I so glad to have discovered your blog and this post of yours Jayne! I really hope you will get it published. I am going to follow your blog and cross fingers for you. For all the love and the struggle you put in it, I do hope you get it. They say only love make you go that extra mile and let that conquer all the rest ( fears, doubts...)
What makes a successful writer is not talent (well a little bit of talent) but the rest is just plain hard persistence.

Marvine said...

Its great having goals. They help put things into perspective. It forces me to be realistic about my goals. :)

Emily Rittel-King said...

And I'm glad I'm not the only one masochistic enough to query again and again and again. : )Good luck!

Ann Best said...

I've tossed many a novel, and story. But sometimes a character or idea in them lingers, and eventually, years later, becomes something different, and publishable.
Ann Best’s Blog