I just spent a full fourteen months working on my first paranormal romance. My schedule looked something like this: Feb thru Apr– world-building, developing characters, and outlining / May and June – writing rough draft / Jul thru Oct – rewriting and rewriting and rewriting (it had problems) / Oct – more character development (I realized I didn’t know my characters well enough) / Nov and Dec – rewriting / Jan – more world-building (I realized I had a boring world with no conflict in it) / Feb and Mar – rewriting / Apr – put in virtual drawer indefinitely.
So, the question is – what prompted the last action? While I have been writing my entire life, I have only been writing with the goal of being a writer since the beginning of last year. I’d talked about it and done a few things with that goal in mind, but not until January of 2010 had I committed myself completely to writing as a career. So, as a newbie, I consider writing this first romance book, all the critique groups I joined, all the books on craft I read, all the conferences and seminars I attended, all the writer friends I found, and the amazing critique partner I connected with – all of it was my Master’s class in writing genre fiction.
Many, or most, authors will say that their first book written was not their first book published. In fact, it may never have seen the light of day again after being tucked away in that drawer of shame. Or, it may have been pulled out later, whipped into better shape and offered to the world. Either way, our first book (and possibly second through who-knows-how-many) is not good enough to be our entrance into the publishing world. Do I think my story is good? I do. Do I think it’s great? In all honesty, I question this. I’m half way through final rewrites, and I don’t think it’s good enough to be great.
Do I continue on this project or move on to something fresh that given my now more developed skills will be better from the first draft with the potential to be great by the final? I decided move on. Spinning my wheels and wasting more months on my first is getting me nowhere. I don’t want to be that person who spends decades or even years on one book trying to make it perfect. Nothing is ever perfect. And this was not a wasted effort. I learned a lot while writing this book and I will continue to learn a lot as I go forward in my career. One of the hard lessons – when to continue and when to move on.
Is it a hard decision to abandon my baby? You bet. But, it’s also the right thing to do. Baby #1 has been officially stuck in the drawer. And the process begins anew.
Be brave, Fictorians… every step on this wondrous journey we’ve undertaken is worth the effort.