My First Novel
I’ll tell you a secret: My first novel wasn’t actually the one that I’ve been pushing as my first novel.
My first novel was a NaNoWriMo completion and was like every idea I’ve ever had while drunk. Amazing in theory but ultimately more of a mess than anything else. Nah, it was cute. I did a bit of historical fiction with my own story about how I came to be an Australian. I cranked away toward that 50,000 word goal and boy did I feel good when I got there.
Because I think they’re pretty up front about what you’re meant to get out of it. And that is NOT a good novel. It’s the knowledge that you can actually finish a novel. In a month. Go you.
That was back in 2010 and it wasn’t long after that, that I had a really cool dream. A Movie Dream, as I like to call ’em, because it feels like I’m watching a movie except when the main character has to pee really bad, it turns out I do too.
Anyway, I dreamt about this young man that comes home and finds his father murdered, shot in the head. But the weapon that did it doesn’t exist, and he can read the thoughts of the killers that are still hanging around outside his house. And when he fights with them and flees, it’s on a motorcycle that runs on magnet power.
So yeah, I had a lot to work with. It all started to come about pretty quickly after that. I started world-building like crazy and I even came up with a Dystopian Event, a massive EMP that zaps the world’s electromagnetic field as well as anything powered. I don’t know why, but I chose the year 2077 for the Day The World Went Dark.
Crazily enough, I wouldn’t start playing Fallout for another few years, and that’s the same year that the Day The Bombs Fell happens, so I feel pretty cool for that and have often wondered if I’d seen it before or if it’s just an awesome year for laying waste to the planet.
So I got Lifed At pretty hard after that and it was a few years before I got back to it. I tried several times to make some outlines to books, I had many cool dreams that I wrote down and thought they’d start a great book, but I just never got going on it. Then last year, about when NaNoWriMo was winding down, I finally sat and hammered it out.
And I finished it. And I’m SO proud that I did.
And it’s… well it needs a lot of work. So I chopped and changed and killed thousands of words and wrote thousands of new ones, and then I tried to get some folks to read it.
And nobody did.
But then I got my sort-of brother-in-law to do it, answering questions and giving fantastic feedback. Much of what I changed was on his ideas.
But it’s still not great. In fact, when I go back and read it now, I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel like ME. I’m not sure who I was when I was writing it, but I think I was trying to WRITE A GREAT NOVEL instead of telling my story, my way.
But I polished it a bit and entered a contest or two with it and left it for a bit. Then I got crazy and wanted to see what would happen so I queried a couple of agents with it. Cold rejection from one, polite rejection from another and a LOVELY rejection from the last. She was very sweet and I intend on hitting her again when the other novel is finished.
The novel isn’t great, it’s not me and it’s not quite what I wanted. I wrote a LOT of words that I don’t think belong, even though I think they’re great. They just don’t work with the story the way I want to lay it all out.
So funnily enough, I put it away and started on the sequel. Which was rocky at first too, and I didn’t like it. Then I figured out why. I was writing it like I wrote the first one. So I scrapped it, literally, and stared over from scratch. Which kind of hurt, but that’s learning, right? I mean, 28,000 words, ZAP, gone, is a lesson you won’t forget.
I’m now 65,000 words along in the sequel and it’s really coming together wonderfully. I haven’t gone back and read it or anything but I’m really happy with how it’s moving along. I’ll write the ending soon and it’s a banger. And I don’t think I’ve thought about The Customer or The Publisher in any sense thus far. I’ve only focused on what *I* think is good and what *I* would want to read.
Let’s hope that’s enough!
I have NO IDEA what the secret is, nor do I know if this will go anywhere at all. But I’m here, I’m doing this thing, I’ve got a new website and I’m going to see how all this goes.
Wish me luck.