There's no end
to the things you might know, depending how far beyond Zebra you go! {Dr. Seuss}

Friday, June 8, 2012

If You’re Not Published Yet, Feel Grateful!


If I had the means, I would buy up every copy of my first four books and destroy them. I didn't yet know what I was doing when I wrote those—I just wanted to write a novel, and it shows.
{Anne Tyler}
we heart it
I’ve read these type of statements time and time again from well-known, famous, bestselling authors. Many, many authors wish they could rewrite their first couple novels, or not have published them at all. Written them, yes. Publish them, no. So the next time you peek into your files or desk drawers of finished but unpublished manuscripts and feel despair, try and feel grateful instead! If they had been published, you might regret it immensely. If they had been published, it might be horribly embarrassing in a few years.
How many novels have you written so far only to put them aside and write another? Your number may be low, or it may be high, but either way it’s probably a good thing! 
Of course, after awhile you have to seek publication if you ever want to see your book on the shelves. But a few practice novels along the way is only going to make that eventual published novel so much better!

Surprisingly, sometimes rejection can be your friend. Dave at Night was rejected umpty-ump times and revised umpty-ump times plus one, which did the trick. After it finally came out, I was signing copies of it at a conference when an editor asked me to sign hers. She was one of the editors who had rejected the manuscript years before, and she told me that she had loved it then and had wanted to accept it. But other people at the publisher where she worked hadn't liked it, so she hadn't been able to.
I'd had no idea she liked the book. At the time I would have sold my teeth to have gotten Dave at Night or anything else published. But as she walked away, my only thought was: Thank heavens she didn't accept it. Because the book that was published, the one I like to think you've read, is a much better book.
{Gail Carson Levine}
Do you have files or a drawer containing finished but unpublished manuscripts? I sure do and I’m happy to say that’s where they’ll remain! (Trust me, it’s for the good of all!)
Happy writing, Zigzaggers! Have a wonderful weekend!!!

26 comments:

Sarah said...

My first ms will never be published, and that is as it should be. It's full of newbie mistakes--pacing, prose ... Even recently, as I've gone through the final proofs of Sanctum, I see how much I've learned since I first wrote it. I hope people agree it's worthy of publication, but I've already made progress in my writing. Great post!

Jennifer Shirk said...

That's true. I look back at a few of my earlier rejected novels and think "Thank goodness they were rejected!". LOL
But at the time, I coudn't see that and was terribly hurt to get those Rs.

S.P. Bowers said...

I do have several books that will never be finished let alone published. They were great learning experiences but that's the end of them.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I have a number of mss in the closet, most of which won't ever see the light of day again, but there are a few where I can feel there's something there, something I wasn't able to bring to the surface at the time. The more I write, the more I learn and, hopefully, the better I get - maybe I can bring some of those mss back and do them justice. :)

Laura Pauling said...

I do have a couple that I'd really like to rewrite! But yes I look at my early rejections as a good thing now that I have hindsight.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

There's a good reason my earlier books should never be published, and why I would NEVER self publish them. Rejections are good. They're what help us grow as writers, if you're smart enough to let them challenge you instead of bemoaning them.

shelly said...

Yes. Great post! And yes, I'v got lots of written stuff that only my eyes have seen.

SA Larsenッ said...

Levine has great thoughts. Thanks for sharing that.

I have numerous unfinished novels in folders on my computer. Most won't get finished, but I have two I've recently started looking at again. Who knows what I'll do....

Julie Dao said...

Everything happens for a reason! I think that if we're struggling and struggling to get a book published, and it just won't take, the whole situation deserves a hard second look. Maybe that book's just not ready, and another one might be. Great post!

Kristin Lenz said...

This is so true, and one of the big concerns with self-publishing. But we're always going to be growing throughout our years of writing. At book readings, I've had authors say they change the words as they read - they can't help but continue to edit.

Matthew MacNish said...

I don't know. I think you can get it right the first time, if you spend ten years on one manuscript.

Just kidding.

LD Masterson said...

I still have an unfinished ms from high school (a loooooong time ago). It's still fun to look back at it but I will have to burn it before I die to make sure no one else ever reads it.

Carrie-Anne said...

A lot of my books were held hostage for about a decade on obsolete file formats on disks, but it was worth jumping through all the hoops to finally convert and reformat them, and start the long but rewarding processes of editing, revising, and polishing them. Since some of their first drafts were handwritten, it's like I got to write them at least thrice—once by hand, again when I transcribed them, and again when I began fixing them up so many years later.

The only manuscripts I've permanently shelved are the books in my first Atlantic City series. I just realized they needed way too much fleshing-out, revising, and editing to bother with transcribing them so many years later. I'll keep the strongest sections to use in my other AC books taking place in the same timeframe, but other than that, I now see them as a learning experience I had when I was first creating and getting to know these characters I've been with for over 20 years now. Those books helped make the characters who they eventually became, and planted the seeds for a number of plotlines I kept and developed in other ways.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I am glad that my first novel never saw light at the end of the publishing world. It was definitely a practice novel :)

Tara Tyler said...

i wish more writers would have patience & not self pub without all due diligence!! it gives self pub a bad name. i've read many that have so many grammar & punctuation errors! makes me cringe! and makes it hard for readers to find the good ones!

mine may be reincarnated some day, but after a complete make over!

someday i will pub, but its got to be awesome!!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I have tons of unpublished works that should never see the light of day. I'd like to go back and re-edit my entire YA series, too, now that I know what I know about writing.

There's another reason to feel grateful - unpublished writers don't have the same pressure as published writers. No pressure to produce something better or spend all your free time promoting. They just get to write!

Saumya said...

This is such a great point and something that's easy to forget. Anyone who wants to be a writer should keep in mind that practice comes in many forms. Many of our first works will be just that!

Karen Strong said...

Oh yes. I have four drawer novels and unless I totally re-write them, they will NEVER see the light of day. LOL.

J.L. Campbell said...

Good stuff, Laura. I don't look at anything I've written as irredeemable. I do a better job editing my early writing because I now have a clue about what I'm doing. :)

MTeacress said...

I don't have a bunch, just a couple, but I am glad that I waited...I think I'm finally ready to try to publish something this year. I hope I still feel the same in a few years. ;)

DL Hammons said...

My first is collecting dust on a shelf somewhere, and its future is uncertain. I still really like the premise and story, but it is very badly structured and written. Maybe someday.

James Garcia Jr. said...

Hmm? Very interesting point, Laura. I know that I have a novella in my writing drawer that I sure would like to do something with, but as of yet, still don't know what that might be.

On the other hand, at some point, we need to see something published for encouragement, and to take those baby steps. Just take that beautiful thing that represents the best that we could do at that point, toss it into the breeze like a baby bird and watch it as it flies away...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts. Much to think about.

-Jimmy

Peggy Eddleman said...

Yes! People say all the time that they'd like to read my old books. If they only knew how truly awful they are, they'd never ask! And believe me, they'll never know personally. Those things are under lock and key!

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, everyone!

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on this post. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only with practice manuscripts tucked away in my desk! I wish the best of luck to those of you thinking about dusting off those old manuscripts. It's definitely worth a second look to see what that manuscript can be now that you've had some distance and much more writing practice!

I hope you all had a terrific weekend!

Love,
Laura

Naomi Ruth Thompson said...

This is so encouraging and good to remember. :)

Laura Marcella said...

Naomi- I'm glad to hear that! Thanks for visiting and commenting. I hope everything is going well with you!!