A few weeks ago I talked about how I had started the revision process on my first novel. I was hopeful back then as I had written notes of how to improve the story, what character revisions I wanted to make, and gathered pictures to help me visualize the world the story lived in.
However, as I started to actually write, all of my prep work went out the window as new ideas popped up. I rolled with it but it became apparent I was actually drafting a new novel. The characters were still the same but the story itself changed. A new main character took charge as I realized I enjoyed working on that character’s sections more than who I had intended the book to be about. A new structure jumped out at me that I liked so I went with it.
Yet at the back of my mind I was still debating if I should go back at all and truly rework my first novel.
The answer is: No. For now, I’m canning any further work on it. I feel okay with this because in listening to authors speak and reading interviews it’s not unusual for a writer to tuck a project away for a few years, come back and work on it, tuck it away again, and so on until it’s done. One writer in particular, I believe it was Jess Walters, told the interviewer he just wasn’t ready for the story as a writer meaning his own skills weren’t up to what the story needed. That doesn’t mean if an idea drops into my head I’ll ignore it, I will log it. Thankfully I keep all drafts and anything related to each piece I do.
Perhaps that is what my first novel revision process has taught me. The fact that a different novel wound up being written shows me I simply wasn’t ready to tackle revising the first one. Does this mean the second novel I did wrote is going to be one I see through a full revision? I don’t know. I’m not going to worry about it all, though, nor am I going to schedule any time to devote to working on it unless there is a strong pull in that direction. For now I’m going to concentrate on working on short stories, develop some ideas for articles I’d like to write, as well as researching a period in history I’m not too familiar with since some ideas for a novel have planted a seed.
At first I was quite dismayed with myself for realizing hours and hours of work I’d put in planning and revising was for nothing, but as I keep being reminded none of it was wasted time because it is all part of my evolving learning process. Even if I don’t touch either novel ever again the time spent working on them is still practice writing. This can only help me in the future plus I’ve now written two novels. So what if the current products on those novels are terrible, I can’t begin to hope to succeed and get better without some failures along the way.