Thursday, February 17, 2011

Good news or bad - I'm not sure

This week a friend of mine sent me a link to an interview with Eleanor Brown author of the book Weird Sisters.

Here's the link in case you want to read it, but I'll give you an excerpt from the interview that has me wondering if it's good news or bad.

Every time something is written about The Weird Sisters that refers to it as my “first novel,” I cringe.

Here’s the thing: it’s not my first novel.

It’s my fifth.

And that’s only counting the ones I managed to finish – there are pages and pages of notes and drafts of novels that never got past the first few chapters.

Maybe I’m a late bloomer, but it took me a long, long time to learn how to write a novel, and even longer to write one that was any good.

It might be bad because if it takes five books, I still have three more to write.

It might be good because I CAN write more books.

What about you? Do you think that the excerpt is good news or bad and why?


Laura Pauling said...

I think that news is rather common. I know some of the big bloggers online got their first or second novels published but that's not the normal. But it can be done under five so you just never know. We just also have to be realistic!

lotusgirl said...

It seems like good news to me. If we keep working at it, we can eventually learn how to do it well. There's a lot to be said for persistence. Across the Universe was Beth Revis' 11th book.

Candice said...

Most of my friends have written 5 or more books before even getting an agent! Persistence is the name of the game. Most anybody who is successful at anything has to work and work and work at it before they can make a career out of it. So, I think it's neither bad, nor good, just the way it is.

I remember when I was writing my first book and read similar quotes. I thought there was no way I would write multiple books before getting one published. But here I am three books later and I've never even seriously queried. I do think I'm finally feeling like I know how to write a book though.

Angela Felsted said...

I think it's wonderful news. Late bloomers of the world unite!

LeishaMaw said...

Good. It's like a promise of keep writing and you'll succeed. I'll take that promise. :)

Lindsay N. Currie said...

Fantastic news to me. It counteracts all of the stories you hear about writers writing a debut novel, finding an agent and landing a book deal faster than I can tie my shoes. It reminds me of how hard the industry is to break into and that taking our time is o.k. Good post!

Paul Greci said...

I think it's kind of neutral. Everyone will have a different journey even if you've written the same number of books and your X book gets published.

Jill Kemerer said...

Every writer's journey is different. I wrote my first three books in one year--with no knowledge of the writing craft (I'm not proud of this, my friend). My next two books were written quickly too, but I spent time learning everything--plotting, story structure, revising, you name it. They still weren't publishable. The next two books I wrote (quickly) were suspenses--I learned I'm not a very suspenseful writer!

I'm still a fast writer, but I'm a good writer now. Always learning. Always trying to make the book better.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that some writers will hit a home run with their first book. Others, like me, may have several finished books before they're writing good quality fiction.

Heidi Willis said...

I think it's heartening. I like knowing if the first or second one doesn't land a contract that it doesn't mean I can't someday make it big.

It means it's not just luck, or innate talent that I may or may not have. It's determination and persistence, not just in querying but in writing.

This doesn't mean you WON't make it the first time out - it just means if you don't, it doesn't mean the journey is over.

And THAT is GOOD news!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I don't mean to be a fence-straddler, but I think it's a bit of both. The bad news is no surprise to us, though, because we already know this is a hard business. :-)

Tracy said...

I think it really depends on how you handled those novels. I think it does take a long time to learn how to write a novel that's worth publishing. But the one I'm querying now has been taken down to bare bones and rebuilt a few times. So that has to count for something.

I don't think simply because it's the "first" novel I've written, if it gets published I've somehow beat the odds. I've put 2-3 books worth of time bringing it back from the dead.

Robyn Campbell said...

I think it can be both, my friend. I'm hoping I'm NOT the norm. SEVENTY-TWO HOURS is my first novel, but I have written tons of picture books, a chapter book, too. So. Dunno. But I gots to break that cycle, if it means novels.

Matthew Rush said...

I can't believe I wasn't following your blog. At least I've fixed it now.

Dara said...

I can believe it. If I count the number of drafts and story ideas I've actually started and then "trunked" since I started writing, I think I'm around that point. I've had at least four before my current WiPs that I did lots of research and story building on--and then never got past the halfway point. Maybe those don't count because they weren't full drafts, but meh--I'd spent months on each of them so they count to me :P

I think though that it depends on the writer. As others have said, everyone's journey is different.