Sunday, March 7, 2010

The First Break-Up: Shelving your first novel

Ah, I remember my first love. It happened this past summer. My heart raced. I lost sleep. I didn't eat. And at the end of three weeks, it was done. My baby. My first novel.

I revised it. (Barely). I rerevised it. (Hardly). I changed the beginning. (Once).
And after a lot of querying (you don't want to know the number. Okay, crap, of course you do. It was like 130), I got a surprisingly decent amount of positive responses and one bona-fide phone call with an agent.

The agent asked for revisions, but something inside me was kind of glad she didn't offer me representation. Because I knew it wasn't good enough, and the changes it needed would require rewriting a huge amount of the manuscript.

Plus, there was something else. My new love. My current manuscript.

In any case, I may revisit my first novel, now lovingly tucked away in the nonexistent waiting room of my hard drive. I may rewrite it, or I may pick it apart for donor organs to be used in a different future novel. Viva recycling!

But in the end, it taught me more about writing than any professor could have. And for that, I am endlessly thankful.

So...any kind words for your written and departed, living on that dusty shelf?

8 comments:

Lisa and Laura said...

Oh, we've been there, Lydia. It's so hard, isn't it? We had to shelve our first attempt at a novel after quite a bit of agent interest, sadly, it was just beyond repair. Best thing we ever did because it gave us the freedom to apply everything we learned to a brand new project. Onward and upward, my friend!

Lydia Kang said...

Yep, possibly one of the most liberating feelings in novelwritingland. I agree!

Jana Hutcheson said...

I know exactly what you mean. It took six years for me to finish the novel I'm currently querying so you'd think I'd be devastated that I'm mostly getting rejections. But starting another book that I believe is even better has taken my mind off things. Best wishes!

Dara said...

My words are the same, although I generally abandon mine after half-hearted revisions. I think my issue is that I need to actually stick through and revise more than just once or twice, and actually, you know, have beta readers go over it before abandoning it completely.

That said, it's still on my HD, just waiting for when (or if) I come back to it. If anything it helped me learn how to write an entire draft, even if it was crappy :P

Lydia Kang said...

Writing an entire draft is definitely an achievement, one I never thought I could accomplish. But I agree it's the betas that have helped me see if there is hope for something better or not. In my heart, I just didn't want to continue with revisions. But those first novels will always be there, waiting for another revision if we want, or not, if we choose to move on.

Nisa said...

Hey, I found your blog from Laura's and I'm excited to be a new follower. Great post! Isn't it amazing how much "doing" teaches us?

Lydia Kang said...

Welcome Nisa! I love your WordplaySwordplay blog, I'm a follower there now too!

Alice said...

Hey, your manuscript is not just occupying your HD waiting room. I left it on the night table in CT, under a window overlooking the goliath maple outside. It just looks so nice there with it's edges worn up with a fat book clip on it.
Did ja get the books? odd stuff but interesting. Oh, I have to send you Elliot's poems. He had a poetry reading yesterday. He's hilarious.
-a