Let me start by clarifying something: technically speaking, this isn’t the first novel I will have written. It’s the first one that I’m actually going to have edited and attempt to have published. Small distinction to you, maybe, but a big one for me.
Having said that, I have to tell you: it’s terrible. It being the manuscript so far. I’m not being modest, it’s an empirical fact. Why do I say that?
Last weekend, I spent two days in the company of other writers, editors, published authors and even a literary agent at a local “writer’s weekend” put on by the Pacific Institute for Professional Writing. As part of the two days of fun, I was required to submit the first chapter and a synopsis of Shadows and Dust. It did not fair well.
Don’t get me wrong: the idea, the story, was said to be very interesting. Positive words were even said about the two sentence log line you see at the top of the Shadows and Dust page of this website. “I would read that,” said the literary agent. But my momentary elation was immediately stamped out by the reality of the condition of the manuscript. In short, I’d pretty much covered the list of “Common Mistakes made by Newbie Novelists,” which was the title of one of the handouts every prospective novelist received that weekend.
Guess what? I bet you guessed it. That’s right, I’m going to write it anyway. No, I’m not going to stubbornly keep those mistakes in there and call them “style choices.” I haven’t earned that right. I’m going to take what I learned, which was considerable, and apply it to the next draft and the draft after that and the one after that and every single draft I will have to write until I feel I’ve got something good enough to put in the hands of a capable book editor.
I believe in myself and my writing ability enough to take all of that criticism to heart and synthesize the embarrassment and disappointment it made me feel into enthusiasm, gusto even, for the work that it’s going to take to achieve my goal.
I can’t wait to get started.