Oh man. It’s not so good.

Following the theme of finishing my novel, I went back and read what I’d written so far, before I got sick last year and had to set novel writing aside. Though I finally made my way back to short fiction, I was reluctant to delve back into my novel for quite some time.  It’s been sitting around on my hard drive, collecting figurative electronic dust.

But I signed up for a writing workshop. Despite my public announcement about being workshopped out, I figured the most expedient way for me to get back onto the novel-writing-horse was to put myself into a structured situation, one that would focus on novel-writing, one that would hold me accountable. I have a wonderful writing friend/partner who has kept me going through good and bad times, but at this point, a workshop is what’s going to get me really focused on the novel itself.

So, in preparation for the class commencement, I flipped through what I’d written of my novel thus far.

As a writer, it’s hard for me to get distance from my writing–but in this case, distance is all I’ve had.  The novel’s been sitting fallow for nearly a year and a half, and so I looked at it with a very clear and cold eye.

Ugh. I was not impressed. Compared to my novella-in-progress, my novel is paltry and underdeveloped, and the writing is not so good. I flinch while I read big chunks of it.

The idea of the novel still appeals to me, and so it drives me forward. I am tempted to work on my novella for this workshop, and not my novel…but I am determined to give the novel a fair shot. And I swear, I know I said I would never start the novel over, but I just may start over…AGAIN.

The good news is–my writing partner/friend has signed up for the workshop too.

Time for me to face the novel writing music.



Filed under The Novel, Writing

6 responses to “Oh man. It’s not so good.

  1. Can we ever really look back on our work and feel great about it? How CAN we be objective? I think that is so hard for writers to do, and that is why it is so invaluable to have fresh, yet experienced eyes to see what is wonderful about it, and what needs work. And I can tell you, this teacher is a GENIUS at exactly that. I have very high hopes for your upcoming workshop.

  2. I don’t recall where I read this, but it’s about an author whose published novel received numerous accolades (can’t remember his name either). He and his wife were on a roadtrip, him driving, when his wife read parts of his novel out loud to him. The author was so appalled at what he perceived to be horrific writing that the moment they arrived at their hotel, he got in front of a computer and began rewriting this book that had not only already been published, but won awards, too.

    So you see. A writer will never look back at old writing and beam ear to ear thinking, “that was some brilliant stuff.” Unless, like, you’re Ayn Rand or something.

  3. Violeta

    I’m signed up for that workshop, too!

  4. at this point, i am concentrating on just finishing my novel. it will be months, if not years before it’s done. in my workshop, ms barry pointed out that self-criticism kills the creative muse. she said that we should write and write and write. when we’re done writing, then edit. that’s the philosophy i am catering to right now… good luck on both the novel and novella.

  5. dudes and dudettes: thank you for the empathy–I know, self criticism is one of the best bullshit detectors a writer can have. and we are all too hard on ourselves.

    I still think my novel needs a LOT of work, and it is in a “total suck” phase though. no milk, you make a lot of sense–just get to the end, you are right. I know that I ought to do the same.

    Violeta: see you in the workshop!

  6. It’s great news that your novella is way better than your novel – it shows how far you’ve come. Congrats! I feel the same about my book, by the way, that some chapters are much better than others, and that all the others need to be rewritten. Ugh.

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