Mar 7, 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Practice???

It's the first Wednesday of March, and time for the monthly post about my insecurities.  This is sponsored by the amazing Alex Cavanaugh - head over here to read lots of amazing entries.

This post comes from the fact that my WIP is blowing up in my face.  I started in on some revisions, because it needed to be sorted out, and it's for an adult audience so it's okay for it to be a longer book, but it's scaring the livin' daylights out of me. 

But I'm stubborn (no, really) and up for the challenge and keep growing my story, developing the characters better, really embracing the challenge of a book that is too hard for me to write.

The lingering question still remains - am I a good enough writer to write this story?  I can write research papers and discuss the theme of wisdom in 16th century literature, but can I write this book? 

And then I hear people who say the first novel is a practice novel - one to really figure out how to write - which completely breaks my heart because I'm putting a serious amount of work into this...too much to have it just be for practice.  Flash fiction is practice.  Little side exercises are practice.  A whole practice novel?!? 

Those of you who are agented, querying and published - did the first book make it?  How many of you, at any phase of writing, had your first be the practice?  Am I overly emotional for clinging to this one like I married it?

24 comments :

Julie said...

Oh my gosh, I feel like I could have written this post as well. My post for the IWSG is about how my first novel is "blowing up in my face" and freaking me out while I'm doing revisions. I've also totally put my heart into the story and don't want to think of it as practice either.

I'm having the same doubts as you are, but I believe we can both do it! Hang in there!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

It must be harder to write a novel then write poetry as I do.
I am finding promoting the book harder than I did the first book but I guess that's not uncommon.
Hope all turns out well for you.

Yvonne.

farawayeyes said...

Not agented, queryed or published BUT here's how I look at it (if that matters).

First book, is one I'm married to - a great story but it really stinks. Went onto write a sequel, much better - BUT we still need the first one. Wrote a third (not sequel - totally different story line) and it's much better. Working on getting it ready for query, agent publishing.

THEN, back to that first great story. Rewrite it as the writer I am today, much better I hope. Does that make sense. I believe in that first story - I needed to grow into it as a writer.

Miranda Hardy said...

I've shelved my first two novels, but I intend to go back to them both. I don't believe a first novel is always trash. Keep believing in your story and your efforts will pay off.

Kyra Lennon said...

That comment about a "practice novel" always hurts me too. I am putting so much into it, it CAN'T just be a practice novel!

Your doubts are perfectly normal, and I'm sure you will manage to write your book, and it will be better than you ever imagined!

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, I know all about those novels that blow up in your face. I've been having that exact problem with my next novelette in the Gravity series. It wasn't until yesterday that I figured out how to keep going with it.

And I've heard that the first novel is a practice one too, but I love my first novel, so there's no way I'll give up on it. Keep believing. It may take longer than you'd hoped, but it'll be worth it.

Nancy said...

I think some people are successful with their first novel if they are willing to do all that is needed to make it work. Often there are so many mistakes that it is less daunting to write a whole new one than fix that one. At least that is what happened with me.

Jenilyn Tolley said...

My first novel was practice. I'm scared to even look at it. The second one, too. Some of the other ones, though, I'm having a hard time letting go of. I've put them away before, but I always end up coming back to them.

Tracy Hickman said, "You haven't written your best work yet." I find that hopeful and it makes it easier to move forward and work on something else even though I still love some of my earlier projects.

Tonja said...

I've read that too - that your first novel should just be thrown away. I don't think that's necessarily true. It can't be, can it?

My plan is to write three or four novels and then come back to the first three and edit them again using what I've learned along the way before I submit them. I put too much effort into the first one to throw it away.

Melanie Fowler said...

I'm still writing my 'first' novel, but I've been re-writing it, forever! I think that when you write a novel for the first time before you edit or rewrite, that is a practice novel. But when you go back and put work into it, I feel that it's turning into something.

Metz said...

I say write it with all your heart and passion poured in! Don't let the stereotype that your first novel is awful thwart your efforts. Keep writing it and finish it.

I think the smartest thing to do after that is write another one. Then after you have even more practice and talent, go back and fix the first one. Don't throw it away! It's your baby and you should stick to it and see it published. Good luck!

Cassie Mae said...

Oh gosh, did I hate hearing this when I was working/ querying book 1. But in all honesty, that book will always be awesome and amazing, but when I wrote book 2, I was like, No! This one is it! While querying that one, I wrote book 3. Entered book 3 in a contest because a cp told me I better do it or she was gonna do it for me.

And book 3 is the one that's getting all the attention.

Does it break my heart a little that book 1 and 2 are still sitting on the shelf, waiting to be heard? Yes. Absolutely. But they weren't practice novels. They just weren't THE novel. Book 3 still may not be THE novel. Working on book 4 right now.

Just how the game is played unfortunately.

Andrew Leon said...

Paul Zindel's first book used to be on school reading lists. Watership Down was Adams first book, and it's considered a classic. The Hitchhiler's Guide to the Galaxy was the other Adam's first book.
The House on the Corner is my first book, and while it hasn't "made" it, it certainly wasn't a practice book. I just haven't figured out how to get the word out to enough people, yet.

S.P. Bowers said...

Practice on the exercises and flash fiction. Write the novel the best way you can, stretch yourself, get help from crit partners. You can make it what it needs to be. Some people do get their first book published. You can be one of those people.

S.P. Bowers said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. A. Bennett said...

I think you are savvy enough to KNOW when a story s good enough to be worked on and when it should be put away. I put away my first novel becasue I KNEW it wasn't good enough. Yours is. Quit griping and get to work, lol!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The first novel I wrote sat in a drawer for thirty years before I completely rewrote it - and it became CassaStar.

Ute Carbone said...

My first novel is still collecting dust bunnies. Someday, I'll go back but for now I've got other books to think about. I've written a few novels and they ALL felt like they were going to blow up somewhere mid-project. The good news is, if you stick it out, it does start to jell at some point. And I think it's important to finish. Even if my first never sees the light of day, I learned a lot by writing it. Mostly, I learned I could finish a long project. So, hang in there. Keep writing. :)

ali cross said...

Aw, Tasha. Don't let other people's experiences define your own. If this is your IT novel, then make it IT! Don't let it just be for practice. Besides, you ARE getting tons of practice writing and revising--no reason why your practice can't turn into your published book.

((Hugs)) and hang in there!

Brinda said...

Everyone is different. My first book has been put away and my second made it to publication.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

comparing kills creativity :(

Allison said...

I wrote my first novel when I was twelve, so it was definitely practice! I can't even look at it now without cringing. I agree that generally first novels are, simply because you need that writing experience behind your belt before you are going to create something publishable. But that's not to say there aren't exceptions, and if this novel is close to your heart, you will likely keep working at it until it is near perfect. Best of luck!

Allison (Geek Banter)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I did find a publisher for my first novel, but I must have rewritten the thing six times before then. I had also finished four more novels before I sold that one and learned a lot.

Tara Tyler said...

unfortunately my first was a practice because i knew nothing about writing. i just wrote. then i found out about head hopping and back story and dialog tags and adverbs...well, i might go back to it some day & start over! but i thought i might have more success with a new, fresh start. lots of ideas! and i will shop this one around for a lot longer (because its tons better) and prob star on a third...i cant sit still!

but everyone is different. keep at it! get cps and betas and they will help you! many get their first one published too =)