(Above): Picture of me recovering from writing my first book.
I wrote my first book about eight or ten years ago. It was was somewhere around three hundred pages. I can’t remember the exact page count, but I’m not going to open the file to look at it. It’s too painful. The subject does not matter, nor does the genre. I was driven and focused when I worked on it. I lived in a small house in St Kitts, BWI that only had a/c in the bedroom. On most days, the rest of the house hovered around 99 degrees Fahrenheit. Every night for a few months, I came home from a long day of work and promptly sat at my computer and started banging away. I had written songs, poems, and short stories for more than a few years. It was time to take the next step. It was time to write a book.
So, I wrote and wrote and wrote. Then I edited and edited and edited. Then, I read it one last time and felt pretty darn good about what I had done. The book, at least an early version was finished. I was proud of myself. It was time to take a break and refresh before doing anything else with it. A month or two later I picked up the manuscript, sat down on the couch, and began reading. Front to back, word by word, line by line, page by page, I read the entire book. When I turned the last page and closed the cover, I took a deep breath and laid the book on the coffee table. I sat back into the cushions and said, “Wow. That was really bad.”
When I say it was bad, I mean it was bad like it couldn’t really be fixed kind of bad. It was horrible. It sucked. Writing a new book would be easier than rewriting that pile of gibberish that I managed somehow to ramble on about for three hundred pages, without telling a clear story or making any cohesive point. It’s an understatement to say that I was discouraged. Three hundred pages of bad writing.
So, let me tell you what I did NOT do. Unlike those goofy stories where people say, “I just picked myself up and brushed myself off and wrote a better one,” I did what real human beings do. I moped a bit. I sulked and got a discouraged about my writing. I questioned whether or not I was good enough to write anything worth reading. I don’t really recall how long that period lasted for, but I can tell you that it was quite a while before I started writing another book. There was no magic moment when I had an epiphany that put me back to work on my writing. What I did was to start writing a little, then a little more, and then wrote a few short stories that led me to a better place, and that made me think that I “might” be able to write something worth reading. A year or two later I started writing my next novel.
I just finished the first draft of my third novel (I don’t count the first one). I have two published novels, with the third on the way. And how good are they? Well, that’s not really for me to say, but I assure you that they are better than my first attempt. And why are they better? Because I read, and studied, and wrote, and improved, and kept learning, and kept plugging away at writing. I hope my third novel is my best so far. I hope my fourth will be better than the third. Time will tell.
In the meantime… I just write. That’s what I do. What about you?