Friday, July 18, 2014

Drawer Novels

So I've been pondering "drawer novels" lately. You know, those books people write before The Book that gets them an agent/gets them published, etc, the books people shove into drawers that will never see the light of day.

You have to write lots to get better at writing. You just do. Which kind of means those drawer novels are like practice novels, except I don't really like to think of them that way. If you go into writing your first (or second or third or fourth) novel with the mindset that it's going to be crap and just practice/filler until that elusive Book that will really be Something, I think you're kind of missing the point.

I write because I love stories and characters, and I have tons of them in me that need to come out. But if I didn't believe wholeheartedly in every single one of my novels, I wouldn't have written them in the first place.

Since 2005, I've written six complete novels and three other incomplete ones, and it is absolutely true that I've improved as a writer since then. But even now, when I'm able to step back and look at those earlier novels and see their many flaws, I don't think they're completely worthless, or that their only purpose was in honing my skills. I still believe that those novels' hearts are sound, and that if I was compelled to revise/rewrite/reshape them, I could do something with them.

Granted, I have so many other stories to tell I don't know if I'll ever get around to doing that, but the point is (I do have a point!) that I am proud of every single one of my books, regardless if no one ever sees those earlier ones but me.

Those books have made me the writer I am, and I keep them proudly in binders on my bookshelf!

Nothing you write is ever a waste. If you don't believe your current project is something special—whether it be your first or your twentieth—why even write it at all?

Believe in your writing, in your characters, in your stories. Believe in those drawer novels. Own up to them proudly.

All the Novels I've Written Thus Far
From left to right: On Journeys Bound, The Rose Queen, The Whale and the Tree,
The Fire in the Glass, The Silver Crane, The Blind King (
unfinished), Seer's Song
Not pictured: The Last Garden (unfinished), Reader (unfinished)


Leandra Wallace said...

Now you're making me want to take my first(definitely practice) novel out of the tote it's crammed into and give it a home on my bookcases. =) The main thing my first book taught me is that I really can do this- write a book from beginning to end. I'll forever love it for that!

Joanna Ruth Meyer said...

Do it! Do it! It is your badge of honor!

And that's one of the absolute best things about first novels!! "The end" are two of the most beautiful words in English!