The poor blog has been neglected for so long it was growing mold, I can’t remember the last time I did a post for Writerslife Wednesday, and I am terribly sorry. In my defense, I was cranking out the first three books in Ariana’s SDF series, on vacation, and then, well, dealing with personal stuff.
So anyway, the first is a throw away.
Pretty much the first of anything.
But especially your first book.
I’m sorry, I know this is hard to hear, but no, your first book is probably not good.
Think back to the first time you did anything new. Were you any good?
First time riding a bike, first time walking, first time speaking in front of a crowd, first time riding a horse, first time cooking something, ummmmm, other examples 🙂
(Yes, my head’s going there too.)
My mind’s already in the gutter, so screw it (pun intended!) we’re going there.
Your first book is like the first time you had sex.
Now, were you any good? Was the act even any good for you? If you’re a woman, you’re saying oh hell no.
(Sorry guys, but Hollywood has lied to you. No girl I have ever talked to about this had a good first time. You don’t want to be the first one there, it’s not a compliment, and there is no pride in being the first to get there. If you think there is, please comment below, I’ll write you into the next book as one of the guys who gets murdered for this very thing. You do not want virgin girls. They’ll be emotional and in pain, and have no clue what they’re doing on top of that. Heaven isn’t 72 virgins, it’s 72 sluts who know what the f#*k they’re doing. (Pun intended again! 🙂 )
Now, I don’t know about guys’ first times cuz duh, I’m not a guy. Maybe most of y’all enjoyed your first time, but, and I hate to burst your bubble, you weren’t any good.
Now that we have our example that pretty much everyone can agree with (oh come on, tell me I’m wrong here), what can we extrapolate from that?
You get an idea, you’re a big reader, you’ve always made up stories, and you decide to write a book. So you sit down, put in the time, and get it all down, and you learn as you go. By the time you’re done, it has probably changed from where you started, the plot is probably all over the place, the characters are probably inconsistent, and you probably have a very stilted, wordy writing style.
And that’s okay!
You’re allowed to suck your first time. And, unlike in sex, you don’t have to let anyone else see the suck. (Pun not intended there, but now I’m cracking myself up.)
It was you learning.
Now, here’s where we get to the point.
Which is, don’t show anyone.
No, really, let me repeat that. Don’t show anyone. Don’t put that book in a critique group. Don’t ask your writer’s group to look at it. Don’t flag down some random writer you met at a party or whatever and ask them to look at it for you. (Please please don’t do this, especially when you don’t have the thing fully written yet. I’ve lost count of the writers who’ve asked me to look at their first work in progress they only have a few chapters of done that I’ve turned down because the first time I was asked, I did that, and the person was pissed at me for months when I critiqued it.)
Let’s go back to our example. If you absolutely sucked in bed, like everyone does their first time, is the person going to want to come back if there’s no prior relationship tying them to you?
(No, no, no, let’s not get into why you’d be losing it to someone you had no relationship with, just go with the metaphor.)
If you said yes, you’re probably a girl who thinks no one would be that big of a douchebag. All I have to say about that is, “Oh honey.” If you said no, you’re probably a girl who was burned and learned, or you’re a dude. You’d also be right.
The critique group, writer friend, whoever, does not want to slog through a painful patch of overdone prose on a plot wandering around the book like a drunken cat. They will either push through a few pages and give up and just critique those, or they won’t even do that much and just tell you to keep plugging.
It’s going to hurt. It’s going to shake your confidence. You’ll question everything you do in that arena from then on out. And you may even want to up and quit since you obviously suck at this.
Or you’ll be like me, get really hurt, pissed off, hold a grudge for years, and say, “I’ll show them!” and go learn how to do this thing. But I don’t recommend that approach because it is painful.
Again, back to the example. How would you feel if your first told you how bad you were in bed? How would you feel if you had to deal with them after that and they always reminded you of that because that’s all they knew of you?
Imagine that pain. That humiliation. That feeling of failure. And probably of betrayal.
And on top of that, after you do learn and get better, those people whom you did give that first try to? The critique group who may’ve been a great fit or the writer friend who may’ve been a mentor, or at least able to give you advice and guide you once you were ready? They’re not going to want to look at the next try because their impression is you suck at this and they’re going to spend their time on someone else who doesn’t.
I have more on this part in a past post here – Why You Never Ever Ever Ask People To Read Your First Book. The gist is, you’re asking them for a huge favor, you’re asking them for their time and to guide you, and if you’re new at this, that’s going to be a huge time suck for something you could learn on your own if you put in the work.
So, I repeat. Don’t show anyone. This isn’t sex. You don’t have to share the suck with anyone else.
But embrace the suck.
It’s how you learn.
Sit down, write, craft the best story you know how. Go back and edit it because that’ll teach you as well. And then put it away.
And start on the next book.
There’s always the chance to go back and edit or scrap that first book for parts later on once you know what you’re doing. But for now, accept that it’s not publishable. Accept that this was you playing around and learning.
Accept that it’s a throw away. And that sucking on your first try is perfectly acceptable because everyone does, and everyone learns from it.
It wasn’t a waste of time. It was the time you spent in school to learn a skill.