This week our suggested blog topic was to write about the first novel we wrote. Hee, hee, where do I even begin? It was called Under the Waterfall and it was about a girl whose recently deceased mother was from a parallel land you could only access....you guessed it, under the waterfall located in the woods in the girl's backyard. The concept wasn't all that bad, it was more the way that I approached it that was. Maybe it would just work best to make a list. We'll call it...
The Top Five Reasons Why That Novel Was Never Going To Get Published:
1. It was a bad mash up of every YA book I ever loved. There was a broody boy a la Twilight, a fanciful world a la Harry Potter, and a bit of the wolf a la Shiver thrown in for good measure. I had no idea why I had them in there, at least not one that I could actually justify. I was just chucking stuff in and stirring the pot hoping that whatever came out would somehow magically transform itself into a bookish meal and not some gucky mush that smelled of Bertie Bot's vomit flavored beans and wet fur.
2. I started it all wrong. I basically hit every single cliche. Main character begins the story en route to where the story actually takes off, so the first twenty pages are just ramblings about leaving her house and traveling down the highway while rolling her eyes at her new evil step mom and overly nice dad. SNORE.
3. I was all wrapped up in sounding fancy. I was trying to be literary, my dear ladies and gentleman. I was throwing in every big word, fancy metaphor, and abstract character musing that I could. Not that that's truly literary mind you, it's more what I THOUGHT was literary at the time.
4. Okay this one is really embarrassing. I had lyrics to a James Taylor (yeah, if you aren't at least thirty something you won't even know who this is, you'll have to Google) in chapter one--like a whole stanza. Because what teenager doesn't want to read about some old song by some really old dude that was a big hit in like the seventies or something--when the book isn't even a period piece. OMG.
5. There were pretty much no stakes. I mean I had no idea what my main character wanted, how she should grow and change by the end. And looking back, I'm pretty sure I was newbie enough not to know that I even needed those things. I basically decided to write a novel and just sat down and started writing scenes. AND instead of letting it go, I wrote and rewrote if for YEARS.
So I guess what I'm trying to say is that that first book wasn't very good. It lacked a lot of things, but even after I realized this, it's still pretty dear to my heart. That novel was my college, my MFA. I learned what not to do and eventually what to do by going through the process of writing it and sending it out. I learned how to finish a book length manuscript and even more importantly that I could indeed finish one. That book showed me just how hard writing can be, but also how rewarding. I figured out that despite all of the stuff I had to learn, the ways in which I needed to grow, I LOVED everything about the process of writing. Practical or not, it became a part of me that I'll never let go of now. So really, the book that wasn't had to happen before I could ever hope to write THE BOOK THAT WILL BE.