1. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    Am I just a one novel writer?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hehdw, Aug 3, 2012.

    I'm writing a story, and I'm enjoying it. The details are coming on well, I have an ending, and I know roughly how I might get there, but, whenever I see blogs or posts about novels and how it takes years and years of practice, several failed books, and piles of rejection letters, I get a little bit worried that I won't be able to write lots of things once this story is done.

    It's my first novel, and I'm fully prepared to accept that the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, and even more, drafts will be fairly useless.

    I keep thinking 'but, I don't have any more ideas apart from this one that I'm giving my all with - how the heck am I going to write more stories after this one?

    I'm just worried, and I guess I'd like other people's thoughts on what you do when you're in the middle of one novel, and also when you've finished one - do you get ideas for new stories straight away or is there a period of stagnation?
     
  2. Juganhut
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    Juganhut Banned

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    I think it's common.

    I finished my first novel, and while it was in editing and cover design, I lagged on writing the sequel. I feared that I would be rejected or it not being good in others eyes, and did not want to write a sequel for only me to read.

    In the end, the editor said she actually really enjoyed it and offered me suggestions for the beggining of the novel. It was a little boost in confidence and I continued to write.
     
  3. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    Thanks, Juganhut!

    I suppose it's a good sign that I'm not able to think about any other stories beside this one... I like to think it's because I'm committed to it.

    Then again, it really might just be the only story I can write.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    You're actually very fortunate. Many writers (and I'm one of them) find themselves wrestling with multiple projects at once. The potential to become distracted and lose focus is huge, and with it the risk of losing forward momentum on all of them. Much better to be able to channel your energies into a single project and see it through to the finish.

    BTW, early drafts are far from useless. Even if they are not of publishable quality, they are important steps in the process of crafting a novel.

    Best of luck.
     
  5. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I used to think that. I was like, Oh! How am I going to make another story after Alexis? I've got no ideas at all.

    Then it just came to me...randomly in a Media lesson when we had to make up a story idea.Then it just grew from there. That's now become Peculiar days my second novel. I've not got any grounded ideas after this one but I'm not worried as they'll eventually come to me.

    So, don't be worried. You never know when a new idea, no matter how small or big, is going to throw themselves at you. You'll be surprised when it can happen and what you mind can form from it. For now, just concentrate on one and go with the flow.
     
  6. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    EdFromNY: I've never experienced multiple ideas at once, and I'm very grateful! Losing momentum is an excellent way to sum up how I'd feel! And, I agree entirely that first drafts aren't useless - I made a mistake with this word - instead, they're just not the finished product. I realise just how important this first run of the story will be. Thanks a lot for your thoughts!

    Youniquee: It's very reassuring that you've had the same problems. I think you're exactly right about going with the flow right now. If this story is working, and I'm enjoying it, why do I need to worry about it?

    Much obliged, folks!
     
  7. Dryriver
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    Dryriver Senior Member

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    Focus on finishing - and polishing - your first novel. When it is published, you can take a breather, and then probably the ideas for the 2nd novel will come to you by themselves.

    Could happen anywhere, really... in the shower, while walking in the street, while driving, when you wake up one morning and the light through the window is strange...

    Good luck!
     
  8. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    Dryriver, I LOVE how you said 'when it is published!'

    Nothing like a bit of positivity! Thank you for the advice, it's well appreciated!
     
  9. LuminousTyto
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    LuminousTyto Senior Member

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    Noby has only one story in them. People who say those things just don't care enough about telling stories to come up with new ones. I forget the name of the author but this one dude said that you'll be a skilled writer (assuming you put your all into it) after writing a million--that's right, I said a .M.I.L.L.I.O.N.--words worth of stories. That the equivalent of ten 100,000 word novels.

    Anyways, you just need to get into your own groove for coming up with stories. No stories do not come me right away. I do get ideas, but very small ones, and then I add them all together and they mix and mull and mutate into larger ideas which are good enough for telling stories. I get little ideas quite easily just from listening to movie soundtracks and such. You need to figure out your own way. Really what the music does for me is it puts vague feelings into me, which evolve into ideas. You should try it! :D

    EDIT!

    Ahem, cough!

    . . .

    I don't mean to sound mean, but don't even TRY to publish your first novel. You're wasting your time, unless you're just an awesome natural at it, which nobody is because writing is a skill and telling stories is an art. Both of which takes learning and imagination. I think you would be better off spending the time you have writing other novels instead of spending countless hours writing up proposals and sending them to agents.

    Write because you want to tell stories, not because you want the money and recognition. Then you will get published one day, promise!

    Novels need to be around 90 K words minimum to be considered a novel. If it's shorter it'll be a novella or whatever. Keep on counting them words till you reach a million!

    So far I'm at... two-hundred-and-forty! :cry:
     
  10. GoldBat18661
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    GoldBat18661 New Member

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    Just focus on your current story, and when your done, inspiration will come to you. It may take months, years even, but once a writer, always a writer.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The hard truth is that not everyone is cut out to be a writer, even among those who manage to finish a novel and sell it to a publisher. In fact, that is a huge part of why publishers are reluctant to sign new writers. More often than not, that one novel is all they can manage. After all that work, going through it all over again for one or more additional novels is just too much.

    So maybe you are a one novel writer, maybe not. You won;t know until and unless you get a second novel published.
     
  12. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    Luminous Tyto: I understand what you're trying to say about needing to write and write and write before I'm any good at it. But that's what I've doing. And, really, I just don't buy into the standard '1 million word rule.' It's a very good way of summarising the amount of work needed, yes, but I wouldn't go as far as believing in it to the digit.
    Still, I have heard many people discourage first writers to publish first novels simply because they can't write as well. It's not a decision I'm thinking about yet as there's too much work I want to do on the book. And, hey, don't worry, I'm only writing this story because I need to tell it.

    GoldBat and Cogito: I love a few contrasting opinions. I was a writer all through school, and now I've got more serious, I'm enjoying it, which makes me think that I might just have more ideas to come. But, until I'm happy with this story, and with the novel itself, I can't even consider anything else.

    Great responses; thank you very much!
     
  13. djunamod
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    djunamod New Member

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    I agree with Ed. Revisions, no matter now many you do, are not useless at all. Apart from the fact that revisions really allow me to find out what the story is really about and where I want to go with it, they also sometimes offer other ideas for new novels. For example, I wrote a draft for a novel something like 4 years ago and through revisions of it, I actually ended up making 2 novels out of it that I am working on right now.

    As for ideas, I'm one of those who has many going on at the same time and have to force myself to put some aside. I was working on 3 novels at once and realized that that was too many, so I put one on hold while I worked on the other two. I just finished the first draft of one of them, so now I've picked up the one I put on hold and am working on finishing it and then I'll work on revising them one at a time.

    I find when I get even a gem of an idea, if I put it in a Word document and save it to a folder I call "Story Ideas", I don't lose it. I might never do anything with it or I might find I work on it 10 years from now and it becomes something totally different than what I first envisioned, but at least I know I have it on the backburner so that I'm not left with the "what the hell do I do now?" feeling when I finish a novel. I know I can go to that file and start working on something right away.

    Djuna
     
  14. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I cannot disagree more. What kinda self-fulfilling road to failure are you proposing? You should try and publish any and all novels that you have written that you feel are publishable, but never ever fear rejection and criticism and when you find one is not publishable, you do your best to rectify that! True that perhaps your third novel will get published before your first, cus by then you'll have more experience - but if you let the idea of "Never even TRY to get your first novel published" - then the truth is you will make yourself live in a perpetual state of believing your writing is not yet good enough, not yet good enough, just a bit more time, just one more project, not yet good enough. And what will you finish with? You'll finish with never trying to get ANY of your work published.

    But if you had faith in yourself, your writing, and your novel, then trust me when I say you will certainly try to get your first book published - even if it never does, you will try til you die. But without faith in your own work, even if you're the best writer and you've written 100 books, you'll still believe it's not good enough and never try.

    NEVER ever tell someone not to try. Trying - that step of faith and risk in trying and believing and hoping - is the first step to success.

    And besides - what if it's your first novel but you've rewritten it, changed it and revised it for the 100000th time? Are you still "inexperienced" because it's only been one story? And therefore you shouldn't try to get it published? You go try and publish every last damn piece of work and you be proud of it! I think this personal faith and conviction in your own work is MUCH more important - it's ok if they don't get published, it's ok if they get rejected - but you be proud of your work and if after a realistic assessment you feel you can publish it then damn the fact that it's your first novel - you go and send it out!

    Oh and to the OP - don't worry, I just finished my first draft and in the editing stage, and my mind's a blank for the next story. So for now, I'm reading :) You'll be a one-novel writer if you settle for being a one-novel writer. But how could you be a one-novel writer only if you're always thinking and looking for stories? It's a choice, like anything. If you think and look hard enough, one day another story will come, and then it is a choice whether you will write it or not. It's a mistake to think your work is ruled by your whims only. Rather it just depends on your will.
     
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  15. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've always felt that there are a lot of people who have one really good book in them. I find it interesting to see if an author who has written a really good debut book has another one that is even close to as good.

    Related to that, I agree with Mckk, in disagreeing with Luminous' advice regarding first novels. It might require a lot of revision and editing, but that story might be the one that's in you.

    It's possible you only have one story in you. That's not necessarily the end of the world. Harper Lee only published one novel.

    It's also possible you have more than one, because from what I hear through the grapevine, your's is a common worry. Get through your story and see what happens later on. Do some writing exercises/prompts, maybe try writing some short stories, maybe take a writing class (in person or online) and see what happens then.
     
  16. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    I think, I made a bad mistake when I said that my first few drafts will be useless. I really do agree with both Djunamod and Ed when you say that the drafts are just as important as the final product. Of course they are! I get to basically 'learn' my story so that I can actually design how I tell it to people, so, I completely agree - drafting is crucial.

    In terms of publishing as a first time author: As long as I am as happy with the book as I can be, I've let the book cool down in a drawer for a while, and have then returned to be content that I've done what I set out to do, I'll try and publish it. I read a blog that tries, as Luminous would agree, to discourage people from publishing first novels. There was a lot of talk that with self-publishing now so readily available, there is a risk that writers would want to get their story straight out onto virtual shelves before really editing it or handing it over to others for editing advice. My belief is that I will send manuscripts only when I have done everything to the best of my abilities, and that means being restrained - I think what Luminous might have been trying to say - that is, not rushing straight to sending a novel off. I think the chances are very high that the book wouldn't be crafted enough to be called a novel, and the story not as developed as it should be to be readable.

    Chicagoliz - I know plenty of writers who are bestsellers with only one book. I studied Arundhati Roy's novel for A-Level and was surprised to see that it was her first. But I was less surprised to read that she had written it in four years - plenty of re-drafts can be done in that time!

    Thanks, everyone. You've all been really useful!
     
  17. LuminousTyto
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    LuminousTyto Senior Member

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    Well yeah, the one million word count is just an average which doesn't apply to everyone. Although they say that to become a master at certain thinks, (not talking about writing) it takes 10,000 hours, which is like 4-6 years of study, depending on the amount of hours put into study each day. Of course this is another average which doesn't apply to everyone, but still I think it's useful to know what they say.

    I've read a lot of books written by successful authors on writing fiction. A lot of them say that it took them 10 years to become a professional. Although I don't remember any of them saying that it took 10 years of experience before they published their first novel. Anyways, keep up the hard work and I'm sure you'll achieve whatever it is you set out to do!
     
  18. LuminousTyto
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    LuminousTyto Senior Member

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    Maybe you're right. Maybe I am wrong to discouraging publishing a first novel. It could be that accidentally mixing my knowledge with selling screenplays with publishing novels. Before I got interested in publishing novels I was very interested in screenwriting. All the advice towards selling screenplays says the same thing: never try and get your first few screenplays sold, just keep on writing.

    I suppose that with some decent writing skills and some solid effort one might get their first novel published professionally. But I am curious to know if those "first time published" authors have already written a few unpublished novels before they got their "first novel" published. It can be misleading to say "I got my first novel published." Did you get your first novel published or is this the first novel you have published?

    But anyways, you're right Mck, I shouldn't discourage.
     
  19. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Some thoughts and questions with answers I think obvious:

    Are the first few rungs of a ladder useless because they aren't high?
    Are you better off polishing a draft of one story thirty times to make it good or writing thirty bad stories?
    First novel successes are not common but do happen often enough to make it a worthwhile goal.
    What Liz said - is one successful novel not worthwhile?
     
  20. LuminousTyto
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    LuminousTyto Senior Member

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    Obviously doing the best job you possibly can on fewer stories is better than pumping out shoddy work. A writer doesn't learn much by not trying.
     
  21. hehdw
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    hehdw New Member

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    B93 - I was thinking about that same ladder analogy earlier today... it makes so much sense!
     

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