Ever think that publishing a fiction novel is hard business? You’re right. In fact, having a brave face and skin as thick as a rhino’s should be a prerequisite to the job description. There is however, something that is even harder than publishing a book, and that is writing the book. What thought processes led you to pump out that 300-page manuscript of fiction you just finished writing? What made you write it in the first place? How did you feel?
1. Wow…that was a great idea. Sometimes the power of our imaginations surprise us, and sometimes they leave us in a complete daze because we realize how great that random thought could be if we manage to write a book around it. Having that first “ahan!” moment shows you that you do have the mind to pull off the next big thing, even if it isn’t successful in the long run.
2. Should I see a doctor because I hear voices now? As any fiction author will tell you, the amount of times they have blanked out in real company to listen to what their made-up characters have to say to them is flat-out alarming. No reason to panic though – hearing them speak often leads to great dialogue in the book!
3. My characters are fictional projections of people in my life. This has more to do with psychology than anything else. The characters in your first novel are your first attempts at imagining what people you’ve never met are like, and when we imagine something, we base our imaginations off actual images. In your first book, a lot of your characters will bear stark similarities to people you’ve either had strong connections to, or people who you aspire to be like.
4. Now I know what it feels like to have imaginary kids. Once your characters have their own shape and form in your mind, they start becoming more real to you than you would like to admit. There is an invisible bond that’s formed between you and them, and you can say rather shamelessly that you love your fictional characters for who they are, even the villains!
5. I don’t want to edit that scene out, it’s so good! Self-editing any novel in general is a very slow form of intellectual torture, and the first time you are faced with it, you truly feel like you are being unjust to your baby. The important thing to realize here is that no matter how good a scene or piece of writing is, if it messes with the flow of the overall book, it needs to go. Once you’ve reached the end of the novel, you’ll naturally want to go back and cut out things that don’t make sense anymore.
6. Every time I read it, I enjoy it even more! Your first book is the first thing tailor-made to your interests, and so whenever you read any part of it, you feel that smile creep up on your face because everything, and I mean everything, in it is something you love to read.
7. But who will read it? This is something I guarantee every author has felt at some point while writing their book, especially their first one. When you’re new at writing lengthy pieces, and you don’t know exactly where you’re going with the story to start out with, self-doubt is bound to roll around.
8. I don’t care who reads it, I want to read it! After the feelings of self-doubt have passed, you realize that when writing becomes about selling and not about expressing yourself through an artistic medium, it ceases to hold the title “writing” and is reduced to just being “words”. If you love what you write, it will show through in your work.
At the end of the day, writing your first novel is both a spectacularly difficult and rewarding project to undertake, so to all the people courageous enough to try it, you deserve a huge pat on the back. You may start writing a novel and not finish it, or start out with one idea and have it turn into something else entirely. No matter what your path, writing should always be something you enjoy and love for the sake of expressing yourself, because your ideas are worth it.