So some of you know that I’m a total wantabe novelist (LOL. I wrote that sentence pretending that people actually see this blog).
I have two manuscripts 75 percent complete. I haven’t finished either of them for good reasons. It’s time to kill off a major character in potential novel No. 1. It’s really hard for me. It’s a little bit like premeditating the murder of your brain child.
I know exactly how it’s supposed to happen. I’ve scripted his death in my head two dozen times. It will be quick, but very sad. I’m hoping to shock the crap out of the reader. When I told my sister, who has read part of the book, she screamed, “No! Not him!”
She gave me exactly the reaction I wanted. Perfect.
But there’s one small issue with moving forward with this murder (really, I’m still working up the guts to do it). I just read a manuscript that a friend of mine has already sent out to agents. And it’s so good. It’s totally marketable. A publisher should pick it up. And worst of all, it’s cleaner and more compelling than my book. Sure she’s worked on it for a year-and-a-half (compared to my eight weeks), but I wonder if novel No. 1 has any hope. Should I just give up?
That takes us to novel No. 2. I started writing this particular story five years ago when I was pregnant with Gavin. My computer ate a good portion of it and I was so frustrated that I quit. When we moved to Virginia and was insanely lonely, I opened it up to get a good laugh. Instead, I realized that it was salvageable.
So I worked on it until I got the idea for novel No. 1. I couldn’t sleep until I got the plot and characters out of my head, so I stopped working on No. 2 and focused on No. 1.
I cranked out 12,000 words in about three days. That’s an incredible rate for me. It wasn’t painful, it wasn’t labored. It was magical.
I fell in love.
The imagery was poignant, the characters were vived, the plot was intense. Or so I thought.
Just like many parents, I ignored the faults of my children.
My first writer’s group was akin to the midnight bail out call.
Your perfect child has been arrested for something unthinkable. His voice trembles as he lays out his mistake, carefully explaining each detail. You close your eyes in shock and horror. Your mind shouts, “How could I have missed this? How could things have gone so far astray?”
You hurry out of bed, throw on whatever clothes you can find and rush to the police station. Out of love and obligation, you want to be at your child’s side. “I will fix this; I will find a way to make things better.”
A writer doesn’t have that obligation. I don’t have to bail my novel out. No one needs to know that it’s not perfect, fabulous. No one needs to know that I’m average. No one needs to know that I ever, ever tried to write at all. My brain child can remain locked forever in my hard drive. The light of day need never shine on it again.
I can become that parent, that writer, that forgets this story ever existed.
I’m reading it and I’m glad you’re writing it…so there! And 12K words in three day–shut the front door! HOLY MOLY! (is that how you spell moly as in holy moly?–oh well, you get the idea)
Only you can know if your novel is good enough. Just think it through. Don’t compare it to anyone else’s novel. In fact, pretend novels don’t exist except for yours. Then ask yourself: Is this compelling? When I read over it, do I feel proud? Do I feel inspired? When I write this, do I find myself unable to stop? Is this a story that needs to be told, as in, if I read this books X years ago, what would I have thought about it? When you answer these questions, you’ll know just where your book stands or what you’ll have to do with it to make it better.
<3 Gina Blechman