So I’ve finally finished the first-or-second draft of Vengeance Will Come, my first foray into novel-length writing. Having achieved such a long-term goal you’d think I would be ecstatic.
But no, I’m feeling somewhat the opposite emotion. (* My initial elation was probably more just I’m-escaping-from-this-room and getting fresh air feeling after a mammoth writing session).
Let me explain how I am feeling using another real-life example. When I was in junior school I made my mum a clay “bowl” in Art class. I say “bowl” but really that is far too generous – it was more of a “thing”. I’ve never been skilled with my hands and this was perfect evidence of that fact. Showing true ingenuity (or perhaps fear) I decided not to use the spinning wheel to craft my masterpiece, instead taking coin-sized pieces of clay and pinching it together. I could lie and say it looked like something cool from antiquity but the truth is not so grand. It looked like something you might expect a near-sighted, half-paralysed, drunk chimpanzee to slap together in under three seconds. It was such a masterpiece that it could not endure the rigours of a kiln and so was never baked.
(I just googled “really bad clay bowls” and everything returned was far better than mine). It was bad. What my mum should have done is said ‘thank you’ when I gave it to her as a gift and then let it migrate to the rubbish after a respectful length of time. But no – characteristically mother-like – my dear mum kept this artefact for decades. Every time I saw it I couldn’t help but be embarrassed by it. She of course loved it, but that’s just plain motherly bias.
That’s kind of how I feel about my novel. It seems to be me more like papier-mache than novel. I can see some of the errors and I know there are dozens more that I don’t even recognise as errors yet. I have written several times on this blog that my first novel will not be perfect… intellectually I know this; but it is still hard to accept that fact.
I’ve thought about locking it away never to see the light of day, but I need to keep it in perspective:
Don’t compare your first draft to their published draft. They are apples and oranges.
This is my first draft of my first book. There are a lot of things I have learned along the way and there are many things that I know I have done wrong. To be honest, I will probably make the same mistakes again until I make them often enough to realise I am making them.
Soon I will be asking for a few brave alpha readers. Even if this story is never published, I still think the value of going through a broader review and rewrite will be a valuable exercise. (Note that I will only be doing one rewrite because I don’t want to get stuck in an endless cycle of rewrites).