Sarah who asks...
What has been the most unexpected part of your writing journey up to this point? What has happened that you could never have expected? Has it been a help or a hindrance?
The most unexpected part came when I started querying that first novel and researching information regarding that first novel. And I found the same thing being said. "Put away that first novel because it will almost always not be the best you could possibly write."
And that was a bummer. We put so much time, energy and excitement into that first novel that we HOPE SO DESPERATELY it will be the lucky break to get into the publishing world. Then I started receiving the dreaded "agent form letter into oblivion" that could bring anyone's spirits down. But I kept on sending, hoping against hope just to get a nibble of a request -- partial or otherwise -- even if they decided to pass on my project. Because at least a nibble would quiet the inner demons pestering my mind with saying I'm not a good enough writer... that I should just give up... put away that writing pen/computer and do something else.
Then I received an honest note from an agent regarding my first novel. It had nothing to do with the writing. It had to do with the market trend. I can still remember his exact words: "I already have books similar to yours that aren't selling well. What I'm more interested in are..."
And that made me realize... sure, it's okay to place that first book aside --hide it under the bed, in the closet or back in the dresser drawer. Start on the next story after you learned from your mistakes, learned new techniques to try out, and truly perfected your craft with time. But never give up on that first book. Because it might not be the story holding it back, but the market. And since the market is always changing (who of us aren't getting a little tired of the whole vampire-Twilight affair), one day that story could get its time in the spotlight despite it being THAT FIRST DREADED NOVEL!!
You might become unexpectedly surprised.
Read what Cole posted before me. And stop by to see what great answer Eric will have up at his place tomorrow.