Nonfiction

My First Novel’s Final Revision Is Finally Complete

It’s been more than eight and a half years since I started writing my first novel, but rather than at an end, I feel that I’m only at the beginning.

Way back on May 21, 2013, I began jotting down some notes for an idea I had to poke fun at sci-fi clichés, and only 9 days later, on May 30, 2013, for some reason that I can’t now fathom why I did it, I began writing the first chapter of my first novel.

I was totally green when it came to writing, having only finished my second creative writing class and still not being terribly comfortable with description. A lot of the information given in my book came in the form of dialogue, which is why I had to revise my novel a whole heck of a lot once I completed the first draft way back in December 2013.

And revise I did, over and over and over and over and over again. Each revision represented something new I had learned about writing, whether it was a lesson from a published author, or soon-to-be-published author, or something I learned while reading the works of other young writers.

One way in which I learn is by observing the mistakes made by other people then asking myself if I’m guilty of the same sins. More often than not, that answer is yes, which is why I continued to revise my first novel even while I began writing the second book in the trilogy way back in July 2014.

My second novel was finished way back in December 2015, and the first draft for the third book, which I began work on in January 2016, was completed on May 17, 2017, just four days shy of the fourth anniversary of the day I began writing my first novel.

Of course, I revised the second and third books, but only one time each, because that first book just kept nagging at me as if we were married, and I hadn’t yet finished throwing out the trash that I started throwing out years ago. So, I went back to the first book and revised, revised, and revised some more.

There were plenty of big changes and lots of small changes as well, and the benefit of having written the entire trilogy before publishing the first book is that I was able to make changes in the first book that affected the second book and/or third book. Also, any idea I had for the second and third books that didn’t exactly line up with the events or any bits of dialogue in the first book could be added to those later books because squashing an inconsistency was as simple as making a change in the first book, since it has yet to see publication.

However, that is all about to change. Through the four and half years after my third book reached “content complete” status, my first book has been the center of my editing attention, going through multiple revisions still and even seeing a couple of characters having their names changed. I even changed the spelling of a character’s name in the second and third books.

In short, all the time I sat on this trilogy, especially the first novel, gave me a chance to learn about writing, learn about my characters, and grow with my characters to discover more about them and more about myself.

When I first sat down to write my first novel, did I think it was going to be an easy task? Not at all. I knew it would be difficult. What I didn’t know at the time, though, was exactly how difficult it would be. Upon finishing the first draft of my first novel, I reflected on how much I didn’t enjoy the writing process and even swore that I would not write another novel.

Then the ideas for the second novel came flooding into my brain, which was still decompressing from the trauma of writing just one novel. Then came the day that I sat down and decided that I had to write the second novel, my frustration toward myself for wanting to put myself through another round of novel writing coming out in the form of the first chapter of the second book lovingly titled “Oh Fuck, We’re Doing This Again, Aren’t We?”

As I was getting to the finish line on my second book, I realized that there was too much story to tell to squeeze into the final three chapters, so like the writing masochist that I probably am, I decided that the third novel had to be written, following completion of the second novel. Although, I wasn’t too hard on myself at that time since I landed on a cliffhanger, to end the second novel, that I seriously loved. So that love extended into the start of writing the third book, and that love is what kept me from going insane while finishing the trilogy. Yes, it was still a tough task to want to even consider much less take on, but as the first chapter of my third book is titled, “Things Are Tough All Over, Cupcake.”

I don’t foresee see things as becoming a bit easier now, though, since my next challenge is learning the ins and outs of self-publishing. Sure, I’ll drop some query letters on some unsuspecting agents out there, but I really don’t believe anyone is going to pick up my book and fight for its publication, so I’ll have to learn how to handle the publication part myself.

Am I expecting big sales of my first book? Not at all. I’d be lucky to sell even 7 copies of the book, and that’s even with having discounts on certain days or at certain times of the year. And heck, if it ends up that I can’t sell it, then I might just give it away for free. Though, given the time of year in which I would give away my first novel, I have to wonder if anyone receiving it and reading it would think of it as an exquisite gift that is now a part of their wonderful life, or if they’ll grimace at the very sight of it, equating it to receiving a lump of coal in their stocking.

Whatever happens is whatever ends up happening, but for now, all I know is that this stage of my writing journey starts now.

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