So you wrote a novel? Can I read it?

Earlier this weekend, I mentioned to some friends that I was working on my second novel. The reaction was as I expected:

“You wrote a novel?”

“Yes.”

“Can I read it?”

“NO. I still need to edit it, work on another draft, and get it in a more presentable state.”

“I can read it and critique if you’d like.”

“NO. It sucks and definitely isn’t ready for human consumption.”

This continued on for several minutes.

Alas, everyone assumes my putting-down of my trunk novel is modesty, not my actual feelings about it. I wonder if people realize that novels aren’t perfect upon creation. But I’m preaching to the choir (argh, cliche).

But, as to quote one of my friends, “How do you manage to write a novel with all the stuff you do for school?”

One word at a time.

9 thoughts on “So you wrote a novel? Can I read it?

  1. I still haven’t let my parents read Starbreaker for the same reasons you use. I trust my wife to read it, but it needs a lot of refinement before I’m willing to release it to the general public.

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  2. Aside from other authors, very few know what it takes to write a novel. And don’t allow friends to critique your work. If they’re not published, how do they know what works and what doesn’t? This goes for unpublished writers as well. Also for people who write other than in your field. There’s a TON of advice out there, but not a ton of published historical novel authors. General things about writing, yes. But not critiquing.

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, yarnspnr. My mother thinks that I don’t need to do more than one draft, and that I’m just being a perfectionist because I want to do another draft or two to refine Starbreaker.

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  3. This is exactly why I don’t like critique groups. The varying level of skill and reading sophistication, the different agendas, and so on. There are a trusted few I might allow to read my writing early on, but by and large I’m not sure any one else’s opinion is any better than mine (or yours, of course).

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  4. I broke down and bought Strunk and White. It was either that or the Chicago Manual and God knows I need to improve…scratch that, rebuild by grammar skills as of yesterday.

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  5. Heh! 🙂 Yeah, I do think only writers know what goes into it. I mean, think about it, only once we started did we really realize ourselves, right? Well, that’s certainly how it was for me.

    I no longer have shivers of horror when people say that. I just smile enigmatically and say “one day.” Note, they would say I smile “annoyingly,” but they obviously don’t have as strong a grasp on the perfect word as I do. *cough* *enigmatic smile*

    😉

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  6. I used to be in critique groups (one was a teen group when I was in high school, and critiques were required in my creative writing classes), but found that our interests and writing abilities (even ages) were too different to be of much use.

    What annoys me is how much people insist to read a work in progress, no matter how many times I say “it’s not ready yet.” Do they think they’ll break me down with never ending pleas?

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    1. Yes, Beth, they do. If you’re having a problem with persistent people who insist on reading unfinished work, you might not be being rude enough.

      “Can I read your WIP?”
      “No.”
      “Pretty please?”
      “Ask me again and I will ensure that your funeral is a closed-casket affair.”

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