On Practice Novels

I admire those people who publish their first novel. I think they must have a drive that I don't, or maybe are just more stubborn than me. The novel I'm querying is my fifth full novel. If you count the three novels I gave up on about thirty pages in, that makes seven books! No, wait, eight!

Crazy, right?

I would flit from story to story, so much that my husband would ask, "is this the one?" Until I started writing Where the Sky Ends, I hesitated to do the deep edits. Why do that work when there was a shiny new edit to work on? Sure, I wrote a YA novel I'm really proud of right before WSE. I would still love to publish that book one day. But it was an easier book, a contemporary novel with little research of world building.

WSE was the book I cut my teeth on. I completely re-wrote the sucker once from start to finish. And after that? Each chapter changed many times over, some being completely re-written too. Yes, sometimes it drove me absolutely mental. But I loved this book, and loved the nearly two year process to get it to a point where I was ready to put it out there.

That's why I think practice novels are so important. I like the concept of Nanowrimo. Just get the words down. See if you can manage that much. It's the editing that separates a hobbyist from an author. No, not anyone can write a 50k book. Many people give up long before then. But the process of writing and editing a book without the pressure of proving anything to anyone is valuable.

I love nothing more than sitting down and starting a new story. Some come easily, some take a few chapters to keep flowing. I'm just glad I found a novel I was willing to work on for so long. Some books just don't work out, and you can tell and abandon them. Or others don't really show how screwed up they are until you get into editing. But the experience is valuable.

Give yourself time to play, and grow as a writer. Once you're published (no matter your arena) you won't have that precious time back. I still struggle with the shiny new ideas, but I've made a rule for myself. The fun writing is a reward for the "real" work. It's worked well for me so far.

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