From Kate's Writing Crate…
If you are looking for inspiration while writing your first novel—or any novel—read My First Novel: Tales of Woe and Glory edited by Alan Watt. In it, twenty-five writers share their behind-the-desk experiences.
While the title is My First Novel, several of the writers question what is meant by first novel. Is it the first novel you write? The first novel accepted by an agent? Or the first novel published? Rarely are they the same novel.
As Aimee Bender notes on page 13, "The drawer is perhaps an active part of the writer's life as the non-drawer, the pages that see the light and go to people. In my view, it's important not to work on everything, to put things aside that are not clicking…"
Allison Burnett on page 29 shares, "A lesson I like to pass on to young writers: hard work is rarely wasted. Hold on to every scrap you write. You'll never know what you'll make of it down the road."
And writing isn't the only important part of novel writing as explained by John Dufresne on page 56. "I learned that what you take out of a novel is as important as what you leave in. You can't free the angel until you carve away the stone. Overwriting is essential, and so is ruthless editing."
On pages 139-140, Dave Newman states, "Time, for writers, is measured in two things: the amount of words we read and the amount of words we write…What I should have done was write my novel straight through then I should have written some poems then another novel then some more poems then more stories and so on."
Mary Otis thinks on page 147: "Writing a story seems to be about intention and availability—not only to the story itself, but availability to daily life…The trick is that you never know where you will find what, so I try to dwell in a place of possibility, and often the world feels like it is leaning in, conspiring with me to write the story."
Cheryl Strayed discusses her writing process on page 168. "I wanted to write the best novel that has ever been written in the world, but I finally had to let go of that and simply write the best novel I could write. A novel, I acknowledged, that might end up being mediocre at best, that might never be published or read or loved. Embracing these facts—that I could only write the story I wanted to write and only to the best of my abilities—was extremely liberating and important. It was what allowed me to finally get to work and write my novel."
If you need inspiration as you write your first novel and you are online, visit http://megwaiteclayton.com/1stbooks/. Subtitled: Reading and Writing with Friends. Here many authors share their stories behind their first novels.
If all these authors can persevere and succeed, so can we!