I was listening to a podcast, I think it was Mur Lafferty’s “I should be Writing”, and she was interviewing Scott Sigler. He recommended that any new author should write his or her first novel, edit it, and then put it somewhere dark and lonely away from the world and potential view.
I can see this. Many times our first children are our favorites, not because they are any better than those that come after, but because we struggle with them more. And though we may think they are prodigies, or exceptionally photogenic, most people would be just as happy to not see them perform, or look at their three, six and nine month portraits.
I had just written my first Nanowrimo novel and when I heard this interview. I thought there was value in the advice and fully intended to follow it by editing my story and then putting it away. Four years later, I’ve pretty much changed my mind.
Those of you who have followed my blog know that I have recently published my first novel on Podiobooks.com. It was the second novel I started, but only finished it years later. I could have edited it another time, but, I was tired of it and just wanted to get it out.
Unfortunately, as Nathan Lowell indicated to me, publishing on podiobooks.com “is a terrible affliction.” Now that I have published my first, I want to do another.
So at first I was conflicted. I have my novel which I am prepping to submit to the paper publishers. I though, well, maybe I should publish it on podiobooks.com. I think it’s good enough for a publisher to pick up, and you have to be really good, like Nathal Lowell or Scott Sigler for them to buy your stuff that’s already been podcast. So I looked at what I have on the back burner and the one that seemed like the best fit would be to rewrite my first Nano.
I started my adult writing “career” on October 11, 2008 when submitted my first 100 word story to podcasting.isfullofcrap.com Weekly Challenge #129. I had been listening to ISBW for a couple months and the subject of Nanowrimo kept coming up.
So a month later, with five 100 word stories under my belt, ten days into November, I decided to give the 50k word challenge a run for its money. Looking at it now, it looks as bad as it should. Every weak writing habit it there; passive phrasing, run on sentences, comma splices, and lots and lots, and even more “Telling instead of Showing”.
I’ve learned a lot since the first time this went down on paper, and I’m not using the original text at all. I’m using the 51k words as a detailed outline. The original story will pretty much stay in the dark. But the rewriting of the tale should be one that I will be proud of and should be at least as entertaining to listen to in 12 to 16 episodes as “The Price of Friendship”. It will be one more thing completed, and one more accomplishment to show to those who will make decisions about the prose I send to them for publishing in a more traditional route.
So, what did I just say? Yes, I totally contradicted myself. In the end, learn from what you do. Make each story better than the previous, and when you get to where you like how you sound, I think you can go back and pull those skeletons out of the closet and rewrite them to your hearts content. If you feel they’re worth sharing, share them.
Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll is a self proclaimed novelist and staff editor at Flying Island Press. He prefers writing about teenagers and young adults, because life was a lot more interesting back then.