It’s Thanksgiving week for the US. I was going to post a story, to flex my flash fiction muscles, but I didn’t feel like it, so I’m doing this instead. I have officially completed some 22 stories of varying lengths that I consider or considered at one point to be a novel. After reading Rhett & Link’s Book of Mythicality (they’re my favorite YouTubers, they wrote a book), I’ve come to realize that I haven’t celebrated 22 times.
When I finished my first novel, I was so excited. But this first novel, while hilarious now, was truly awful. I actually get a little annoyed when people say things like, “Oh, I’m sure it wasn’t that bad.” 😐 With novels 2-7, my “practice novel” years, I would read over them and make fun editorial marks and comments with different colored pens, but I didn’t celebrate them either. I would be so excited until I picked up the next book, and then I would beat myself up for being terrible and try to be better with the next book.
Novels 8 & 9 are special. I sent out a total of 10 query letters between the two of them. While I admittedly only did this because well-meaning family members pressured me, I don’t regret it because I learned a lot and the stakes were super low. I was still disappointed, but like, I was relatively unscathed. There was still no celebrating though. Novel number 8 got read so many times I got sick of it, and Novel number 9 wasn’t edited until three years after I wrote it. It even had an unfinished scene in it that I was able to somehow seamlessly tie into the rest of the story.
Finally, in 2008, I finished a novel over 50k for the first time, and this was a very big deal for me. I had a pacing problem from day one, and thanks to a very helpful book on writing and my ego getting kicked in the face in my first writing class, I had finally conquered the first of many writing problems. Yay me! I didn’t celebrate though. I pat myself on the back and then waited to get feedback from my betas. For several months. Long story short, feedback never came, and I ended up flailing at more edits in the dark alone, leading me to hate the very thought of having a beta reader until 2015. True story.
I quit writing for a couple of years and got back to it in 2011. Still no celebrating. I finished the story, realized it was a mess, and beat myself up about it for several months before reading Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins, after which I was equally enraged and elated, and got my butt back in the writer’s chair with a new perspective. I STILL didn’t celebrate. I just held my breath through the query process.
Finally, in 2013, I finished novel number 13 and was talked into going out to celebrate with my siblings, separately for some reason, where I congratulated myself for the first time on the hard work I had done in writing an entire book. We talked about that project and what was next, and I just knew I was on my way to becoming the next celebrity writer.
I sent out over 100 queries, over too many months, and had an almost 100% form rejection rate. A year later I received a nice rejection apologizing for the late reply that felt like it was personal, though it couldn’t have been. I revised my query and story three times, literally redoing the first three chapters from scratch and then painstaking revising the rest of the story to fit with the changes from the beginning. I was about halfway through my fourth rewrite when I gave up. And embittered, I didn’t celebrate again until I finished NO REST FOR THE WICKED in May 2016.
Between CHAINS OF DESTINY & NO REST FOR THE WICKED, I wrote four other novels that went uncelebrated. Three of which, I didn’t even feel happy when they were finished – that’s how miserable I had gotten. I even went through a period of time where I was upset that it had taken me so many novels to finally feel like I could write something that was any good. I felt like they weren’t worth anything because they weren’t published.
Honestly, I think that’s really sad. Regardless of how the stories turned out, that time and sweat and blood and lessons learned deserved to me acknowledged by me. So, inspired by the Book of Mythicality, I’m taking this time to thank and appreciate all of my past novels. Though some of them of are terrible, I love them all and they deserve to be celebrated. From here on out, I’m celebrating everything I write, even if it’s just a day off from doing anything and taking the time to quietly acknowledge and feel proud of the accomplishment. So, cheers to me. I’m proud of me and happy for me and hope good things for me. 😀
There’s actually some debate with me on whether novel number one was written in the summer of 1996 or early 1997 – I actually don’t remember, so I went with 1997 because that’s the year I lean closer to – I only remember how old I was and that uncompleted novel number two was definitely written in 1997.