I have been writing for a while now, almost ten years. And this far in, I feel like I am still such a novice.
My first novel I wrote in five years. It ended up being a untypical fantasy story about a totally different world, no fairies, no giants, no princesses. I filled it with strong families, broken people and greed. I love that novel.
Then I went to publish it.
First off, it was too big at nearly 1100 pages. So I split it in half. And I thought that would work. It made sense because the second half of the book begins with the first POV given from an enemy viewpoint. And Ke is such a wonderful, conniving, brilliant, honor-bound opponent.
I decided to have my family edit it, and beta readers. I thought that I was smart enough to be able to take on spelling, grammar and structure. After all, I am an avid reader and college educated. So I skimped on the editing, figuring only a few mistakes would get through.
I published it, supported by family and friends. It was surprising who actually read it among even the people closest to me.
I bought hardbound copies and went to my first worldcon, ready to meet the publishing world. Brought my artwork as well to show people: the cover I drew, the eight or so drawings inside the novel I illustrated.
All in all I was pretty pleased with what I had accomplished with the help of my family.
The reviews came in.
Many requesting more editing. That's when I began to panic.
I had struggled with multiple rewrites to make the first 200 pages of the book flow. It was my earliest work and resisted my many attempts. In short, I had long since moved past the point where I had any overreaching viewpoint. I could not see what needed to be cut.
Then one of my relatives found an entire page out of sequence in the original published book. It had just been an accidental grab when placing an image, but it moved an page out of order by 20 pages. I wanted to cry.
My children and family are so proud of me, but I feel like a failure.
Then I read the first novel out loud to my oldest son. I swear every other page I caught a minor correction.
I read somewhere a long time ago, someone Hemingway? said, write a million words, then write your first novel.
Maybe it is to avoid situations like this: I love my first novel Into the Raging Mountains. But it just isn't good enough. So I am taking it down off ebooks and I am getting an editor and doing it right.
That makes me feel good: not to rewrite and rewrite for ten years and never publish. But to correct the errors I can in my first novel and then present it again, stronger and better to the reading world.