I read my NaNo in January, overcoming a significant psychological block in the process.
Well, let’s start with some background.
As I have previously described, my NaNo was a whirlwind affair. I wrote the ~72,000 word manuscript in a month. More than that, however, I was shocked by how effortless some of the writing was.
I wrote the story in two timelines, a “Past” and a “Present.” The Present just flowed out of me. Sure, there were times when it got a little tough, and I had to make adjustments. But overall, I had such a strong internal idea of the major characters and the settings and the plot… that… well… it had no trouble coming out of me.
The Past, on the other hand, was a complete mess. Even as I wrote it, I knew I was probably going to have to cut it all out later and go back to the drawing board and try again with some fresh ideas.
So, it was with remarkable trepidation I read my NaNo.
As you might imagine, I was nervous.
As a budding author, I want to be good. I want to be a good writer. I want my writing to make me feel something and to impress me.
What if the Present section that I thought was so good coming out looked like a hot, steaming turd when I reread it?
What if the Past section was so unspeakably terrible that the only takeaway I’d be able to get from it was to stop writing and never ever write again?
Well, before I even read it, I did something that I probably, really should not have done.
I asked my girlfriend to read it.
This is probably not a polite thing to do to someone, to ask them to read the first novel written by a first novelist, and, oh, by the way, I wrote it in a month and hate about ~20,000 words of it (the Past section).
But I did it anyway.
She liked it. She said she was impressed.
She liked the main character and the plot, and she was impressed by how well it came together into the emotional gut punch of the end.
She also thought the Past section was significantly weaker but didn’t think it was the worst piece of turd that has ever existed, like I expected her to.
This isn’t to say she thought it was perfect. She thought it needed significant polish, in some areas more than others. This is no surprise. I did, after all, write this novel (my first ever) in less than a month.
But she thought there was a very good foundation to build on.
So I Had to Read it Next
So, obviously, I had to read it next.
And I was still nervous as hell.
But then ripped the bandaid off and read the damn thing.
It was really not half bad. In fact, I thought it was pretty good, the core of it at least. Some parts need polish. The Past needs to be completely re-written with less shitty ideas (can you tell I hated that?). I need to tone down my main character in some parts (he has a lot of personality), and I need to spend more time world building and creating plot non-essential scenes in order to flesh out the characters and the world better….
Oh, and the prose needs some heavy line editing in, uh, a lot of places.
But at its core, it’s a good story.
The Next Step
In my mind, the most important thing to do is to re-write the Past section. Fortunately, some good – read: less shitty – ideas came to me, and I’ve already gotten started. I’m ~20,000 words into it with probably ~15,000 more to go.
I don’t want to start editing the Present section until the Past is done, because the two are meant to be interwound with each other and build on each other.
But after I’ve finished – finally – writing the full first draft, complete with a half decent Past and Present…
I’m going to edit this SOB.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I think a good year end goal might be to edit it to the point that I can begin submitting queries.