I’ve got a new project I’m working on. A new novel. And how lovely of the folks who run the NaNoWriMo website to offer the same online tracking and motivational tools and shenanigans of November in April to help me bang out the rough draft quickly this month. They call it Camp NaNoWriMo, I call it brilliant.
Wait, what? You want to know what happened with my first novel? I’m getting ahead of myself? Sorry… let me explain.
Last time I talked about my writing I was anxiously awaiting critique from my writer’s group on the first draft of my first novel and stressing that they weren’t going to like what I’d written. Well, turns out they all loved it and wanted to jump in and make it better and polished and pretty enough for submission and hopefully publication. And while I want that someday as well, I decided that wasn’t the novel to do it with for several reasons.
First, it’s my first novel. There’s a reason the majority of first novels never get published – they are learning curve victims left to die along the path to becoming a seasoned author. Of course there are famous (and not so famous) exceptions like Harry Potter (and Twilight). And I truly believe that if a new author wants to write and re-write a first novel until it is just as good as a second or a third, it is possible to learn enough on your first idea to make it happen. My good friend has done that and is well on her way to publication. I also know she has most definitely written that book more than once.
Second, I’m lazy and I want the learning return with smaller investment up front. My first book (working title “Natural Balance”) is a fantasy. And after all the time it took me to finish the first draft I still don’t have a fully fleshed out world built and there are still holes in my magic system. My goal is to someday be published which means I need to learn how to write a first draft and then how to edit that rough draft into something people want to read. So, I’ve figured out my process of completing a rough draft. But do I really want to learn how to edit using an idea that I’d honestly bitten off more than I could chew? Not so much.
Third, I’ve learned that I am not going to write fantasy for a living. While I love reading it, it just isn’t the genre niche that I’m going to be great at writing in. Another argument for not editing this one in hopes of publication. Say I worked my ass off for the next months or years and did sell this book. Then I’d (hopefully) have fans who’d want to keep reading my work because they loved my fantasy novel. And I’d have no other fantasy to give them? It was my baby, my first real idea for a book that panned out into a plot but the fact that all the subsequent ideas I’ve had are NOT fantasy is something I need to fully acknowledge. Perhaps someday I can pull my baby out of
a drawer an abandoned flash drive and publish it under my well established name and hope some of the same people like this completely different piece of work. But I’ll never build a career out of one fantasy novel.
So, I’m going to practice my new-found skills of completing a rough draft by starting and finishing another idea. One that doesn’t require me to invent an entirely different world with culture and religion and magic different than ours. This new idea is mainstream fiction set in the world I live in and know everything about. All I have to do is develop some great characters who have tragic and exciting events happen to them that keep the pages turning. That’s the novel I’ll learn how to edit with.
And where I go from there, I don’t even know yet. There’s a chance there’s still pieces of this writing thing I still don’t even know I need to learn before I’m successful. We shall see! In the meantime, my goal is 30,000 words and a fully fleshed out rough draft/outline by the end of April. Wish me luck!