My Novel Sucks, and I Think That's Great

Nano '11 was the year I made it through Nano and won.

On previous attempts I had crashed and burned only days (even hours) into the challenge.

Last year, about seven months pregnant, I was determined to finally write my first novel. I knew I had to write it before Andrea was born or it would never get done.

Well, I got it done.

Over fifty thousand words, and they all suck.

Really.

Yes, this novel is one of my biggest achievements, and I still remember the high I got when I typed the last line to the story's ending.

But ever since I wrote the first word, I knew it was bad. It reeked of first time writer. I know I probably did tell, don't show instead of show, don't tell. The characters were either not believable or flat. The plot was outright confusing (even to me) and about stuff I had no idea about. Don't even mention the ending. Even I didn't buy the happily ever after outcome.

I still haven't opened up the file since that night on November 30th.

Too scared, that's why.

I know there's a monstrous load of research, revision, and rewriting to do.

But you know what?

Even though my first novel truly sucks, I'm proud of it.

The truth is: it was liberating to write badly. Before, I was so scared to write badly that I just wouldn't write at all. Nano was the push (or painful kick in the rear) I needed to just sit down, write. and say “you know what, self? I don't care how much this novel sucks. I'm going to write the book anyways because I know I can always go back and fix things.”

I learned that allowing myself to write badly and not worry about it took the pressure to be perfect off. I could finally enjoy writing.

Now it's time to get that mentality back and start my second novel. It'll probably suck even worse than the first one.

It might not.

I won't know until I try.

And who knows? I might even open up that first novel file and start working on that, too.

What's the biggest lesson you learned from writing your first novel?