Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Want Me to Put My Baby Where?

In a drawer? A closed drawer? And then you want me to leave it there?! The horror!!

No, I’m not insane. Not yet, anyway. ;)

I’m sure most of us have heard it. I know agent Janet Reid has blogged about it, and other agents probably have too. However, I’m not ready to give in just yet.

What am I rambling about?

I’m rambling about taking my precious first novel and putting it in a drawer, or on a shelf, or some undisclosed file on my hard drive to sit while I write novel number two. We, novel one and I, have become quite close over the last year, and I’m afraid I can’t do that. I want this baby to get out into the world, so it can grow up to be a published novel.

I understand the logic. The idea is that after you finish number two or three or four, you’ll go back and realize everything that was wrong with number one. But I’m rationalizing (possibly deluding myself) that since my novel in its current state is so different from the original version, it doesn’t really count as a first novel.

Seriously, if I posted some of the stuff from the original version, I would never be able to show my face on the blogosphere again. You’d all be reaching for the red hot poker to alleviate the suffering your eyes would be forced to endure just reading it. What? You think that’s a little dramatic? Well, you’ll never know till you read it, which you won’t, so you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Now, I’m not saying that the agents are wrong. I’m just saying that maybe they’re not always right. Besides, I can’t give up without trying.

So, how do you feel about this? Not whether my novel is ready, but the idea in general. Should a first time novelist banish her first born to his room until the other kids have had a chance to play?


  1. This is a hard one. I know my first needed to be, but I've heard of authors who sell there first novel that never got put away for even a month. One thing you might want to do is run it by an editor, english teacher, librarian, etc. to get an unbiased but educated opinion of if the writing is strong enough to submit to agents and editors. You don't want to get your name out there off the bat as a weak writer, either, but if it is great, then why wait!!!

  2. Wow Abby!

    I have been praying about this very thing. (Thank you Jesus). My first WIP is so dear to my heart, but I am starting to wonder if I should put it aside and run with my second novel premise.

    I am still waiting to hear from God.

    Thanks for your thoughts, I wondered how other writers handled this subject. I'll peek in again to see other response.

    Blessings to you...

  3. LOL, you know I love Evangeline, but I'm not holding my breath while I'm querying it-- I'm writing Mara's story instead. But this is 3 and 4. My first novel was poorly written and paced and way, way too long. So was the second.

    Your first draft (not to put you down IN THE SLIGHTEST) did have me sighing and skimming in some areas, so I was pleasantly (and enviously, lol) amazed when I saw your revisions. It was like a different writer had written it. Your improvements were astronomical.

    As for querying that first novel, no matter what comes of it, it is a learning experience of its own. How can you trunk something that you haven't even tried to push on every agent who takes YA? Give it a shot, and during that time, work on something new. You never know what you might learn about your writing from the querying process.

  4. The great thing about advice is it's just that: advice. Not the law, not an overarching truth applying to all people and situations.

    I feel this way about my first novel, too. I've grown so much and done so many heavy revisions, that it is a different book than the one I first wrote.

    I think of it this way: If I query my first while writing my second and it doesn't succeed, what have I lost? Not time, because I've been getting my next book ready to go.

    The only thing I worry about is living with regret. Don't put it away if you don't want to! Every novel you don't send out is a guaranteed rejection, but if you do, something wonderful could happen :). Do what you want to, and keep writing!

  5. Gosh, that's tough. Because the fact is that in a lot of cases it's true (for me, it sure was... first novel has a lot of redeeming qualities, but also a lot of moments that make me want to invent a time machine so I can go back and smack myself). But there's an exception to every rule.

    Who's to say that you can't query while working on second novel? Or put first novel in a drawer for just a little while, and then dig her out again?

  6. Yes!!! Please do yourself a favor and put it away for a few weeks. Please! I've made the mistake of sending manuscripts out too soon and it's not worth it, especially if you're targeting specific agents. What difference will four weeks make in the publishing world which operates at glacial speed? Absolutely none. If you love your story, do it this favor. Because once an agent has passed on your story, they've passed.

  7. No way! I couldn't do it. Like you, my first novel really isn't the first anymore because it's current state is so different from the original draft. I don't think there is any harm in trying to sell your first novel. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work, and then you can put it in drawer.

  8. Put it away for a few weeks until you can read it one more time. Print it out to read it with a pencil in hand. Make those changes (there will be changes, there are always changes)

    Then... QUERY!!!!!!!!!!!! have fun! if you get lucky, your baby gets to dance. If you don't, you are writing number two WHILE you query. So you don't lose your mind. That's the way I did it and I'm happy I did. XO and GOOD LUCK and CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!

  9. If you feel good about I think you should totally query. I never felt confident enough about my first novel to query it (and for good reason). But if you've rewritten it many, many times and you can still stand to read it, I'd say it's worth a try.

  10. Eileen: It's just so hard to be subjective about your own work, you know? Thanks for following! Glad you stopped by!

    Tamika: Good luck to you on your decision. Thanks for following! Glad you stopped by.

    Tere: Thanks! You totally made my day. :) The first draft you read (which was really like the third draft), aka "That Which We Do Not Speak Of", was bogged down with a lot of unnecessary crap. But if it wasn't for you and Becca, it would be nowhere near what it is today. Good critters are invaluable! And EVANGELINE rocks, so don't you tell yourself otherwise. ;)

    Becca: "Every novel you don't send out is a guaranteed rejection." So true!! And it's all a learning experience.

    Carrie: I actually did put it to the side for a couple of months while I got started on my second. So, I guess that counts, right? :)

    MC: Like I told Carrie, it did sit for a couple of months. That one chance thing is what has made me so obsessive about my revisions. I want it to be absolutely perfect before I send it out. It can be quite maddening at times. :)

    Susan: I almost put LW there without thinking. :) I'm with you. No drawers without trying.

    Suzanne: I'm actually close to being done with my last set of revisions after letting it sit for two months. Thanks! I'm excited to be moving forward on this. :)

    Natalie: It's funny that you say "still stand to read it". I did get sick of it a few months back and gave it a rest, but I love the characters so much, I can't just let it go. Only one way to find out if it's good enough. :)

  11. I wish I would have put mine in a drawer. I let it sit and reworked it dramatically at least two times, then sent it out. And it was still too early.

    My second effort is much stronger than the first (based on crit buddies feedback). I've learned a lot from one to the other.

    BUT, I know if someone would have given me this advice back then, I wouldn't have taken it. Patience is almost impossible when you finish that first novel.

  12. I wonder if it has to do with your reason for writing that first novel. I just finished the first draft of mine, and it's taking a breather before I start revising it, but I know it's not going to be the one I'll be querying about first, because I wrote it to show myself I could do it, more of a practice novel - so I didn't pick one of the ideas I'm passionate about. I picked one that was good, but no more than that, just in case I really sucked writing this first one :) I wanted to get all the kinks out, so to speak.

    If I'd chosen a different idea, though, one that was really near and dear to me, no way would I be able to resist sending it out once I finished revising it!

  13. Roni: Thanks! Great post, btw. Patience is definitely the hardest part of this whole process.

    Belle: I think that's part of it. I really do love this story and my characters. It just seems impossible to be subjective about my own work.

  14. I'm a big believer in the idea that most people need at least one (if not 2, 5, 10) practice novel--writing is *not* a natural gift, in my opinion, you have to learn to do it. Like talking--you have to learn to talk, and even if you have the gift of gab, it still takes practice to get there.

    Anyway, I also think it's important to have high expectations of yourself. If you truly think it's ready, then send it. Judge the reactions you get from agents as a measurement for how to proceed from there.