So, I hit this snag with a novel that I’m working on–namely ‘Critique Induced Block’. Apparently I don’t have a good reaction to a work-in-progress being critiqued while, well, in progress. I start second guessing what I do. And the reason I was doing it.
In order to buy myself some time and get my WIP finished, I have polished up my very first novel. Yep. That one. The one that should be locked in a drawer according to a good many writer’s books.
I put it aside years ago. According to my Word program, I haven’t touched the thing in five years…almost exactly. My son was two. I remember that I started writing this first book because my whole idea was to have a writing career where I could stay home with him and write novels. This would be an instant bestseller and I’d be set. I finished this 600+ page whopper in two years, because I started right before Owen was born.
When I was finished I looked at all of those 600 pages and just couldn’t bring myself to revise. It was too big. Too much. I went back to school, wrote a bunch of short stories, wrote Following Julia Roberts (a much shorter novel–designed specifically so that I could revise it) and basically chalked this first guy up to experience.
But now, having started to polish it, I’ve discovered I’m not scared of it anymore and am more than a little curious to see what would happen to it once readers tell me how to fix it. I know some of the major flaws already: it’s way too long, there’s definite deus ex machina at work throughout, I have a ton and a half of characters…and apparently I thought ‘descriptive’ meant ‘repeat until your readers get bruises on their heads from all the beatings’.
Here’s my dilemma: I’m worried that I may be ‘cheating’ on the CWC submission idea–where you’ve got to work on new stuff. But I am working on new stuff. I’m just not submitting it. I want to be done with it (or close to) before I send in the new stuff.
The flip side is that I feel that part of the CWC idea is to work on making ‘publishable works’–and the group is around to help me with that. And, after looking through what I’ve got, I think that what I thought was drawer-worthy might could be fixed.
And yet another part of me wants to feel that I gave all my writing a fair shot.
But you want to know the biggest reason why I think that I should go ahead and give this First Novel a run through a critique group?
Because I remembered, as I read it again, that I had a lot of fun just writing it–deus ex machina and all.
Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.