I hope no one ever reads my first novel.
Besides my husband, who sat with me through each budding phase of its creation, with enough patience that he should be indoctrinated into the hall of saints. The patron saint of my neurosis maybe.
I hope no one ever sits down, reads my first-attempt, and thinks: “Hey, this sounds good”. It doesn’t sound good. It doesn’t sound professional. I’m completely self-taught, with nothing but google to help me navigate the minefield that is authorship. The minefield that is creating in general.
My first work, dubiously dubbed On Beacons, Bullies, and Boys was a hilarious attempt to plow through a novel as quickly as I could. Content is remarkably sparse; it’s almost the same four thousand words repeated in different ways sixteen times. Tiresome to read and maybe a bit dry. There’s not too much in the way of a story, I find it utterly predictable.
Writing it taught me about myself, though. It showed me my style, it showed me my voice. It gave me the courage to write another. I learned more about myself as a writer than I have with any other project I’ve ever started. Maybe that’s because it’s the first one I’ve seen through to its conclusion (yes, I even queried it to a few unfortunate agents—hangs head in shame)
Halfway through my second attempt, I feel much more comfortable with the process and the style. Maybe I’ll even find an agent to represent this one. It could work, could be sellable. At this point, I just hope it’s readable. Because through this process I have realized something very important. I don’t write to sell books; I write to tell my stories. The ones inside my head and my heart, the ones I hold so close to me. If I can touch even one person with the words I let escape my mind, then I have already achieved my aspiration.
That first one though, that one will go down in my history as my first pancake. You know, when you make pancakes you always burn the first one? I burned it. I burned it black. Smoke was coming from the pan by the time I typed The End. But it wasn’t for nothing.
Writing that first novel. Putting in the time and effort it took to complete something. Seeing that it wasn’t just in vain, that I learned so much from the process. That I completed a goal and it didn’t take forever. It wasn’t something I threw aside when I got bored with it.
That—all of that—is what gives me the title of author.
It may not be publishable. It might taste like you dropped it into a dirty fire pit. But it’s mine. I did it. I am an author. I had a vision, I saw it through. Now I just have to repeat. Which seems easier now, somehow. Less heavy.
So I hope no one ever decides to represent that book. Because let’s be honest, it’s a shitty first pancake. And I’m so glad I wrote it.