If you’ve been reading this blog for a while and you saw my recent post about starting a novel, you might be thinking: what about the one you were re-writing last year, or the one you drafted in 30 days?
The answer: those are in the bin.
I’ve written and thrown away three short novels:
The first was a plotless, soju-drunk travelogue set in Korea and Japan which I put out of its misery after three drafts.
The second was a humorless coming-of-age story that I would have called “literary” as a nice way of saying it wasn’t about anything. That one went through 11 or so drafts and some feedback from family and friends (cringe) before it slept with the fishes.
I even wrote a spy novel, which took about 21 days. I had just read a bunch of books on plot and screenwriting and decided it would be easy to whip together something sleek and plot-driven set in the places I had traveled. It didn’t work, but I got one scene out of it, I’m going to use elsewhere, that made the whole thing worth it.
I’m sharing this so I don’t have to feel doomed going into the novel I’m working on. There’s a persistent voice that tells me that I’m 0-and-4, and asks why this one should be any different. This is my way of silencing that voice.
Rather than crossing my fingers, hoping nobody finds my old posts about the writing and rewriting process, I want to own those false starts and abortions. I’m glad I wrote them, and I’m glad I threw them away. I’m glad I didn’t self-publish work I wasn’t proud of, and I’m glad I’m stepping up to the plate again.
If I finish the one I’m working on and put it out in the world, it will only be because of all the work I’ve done up to this point: the stuff I put out there and the stuff I binned.
*If you’re the sort of person who gets offended by abortion quips, it’s very unlikely you’ll enjoy my writing. Have a nice day.