Blog Chain: Sometimes it's NOT the Story!

Another blog chain time has arrived! I had skipped a few due to my little unexpected bundle of joy - Jaquline Ann. But I'm rearing to get back into the chain gang. This round's question comes from 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.


  1. Welcome back! That's a good reminder not to completely give up on your first book. I don't think my very first book exists in any accessible form anymore, but there's another early book of mine that I'd like to revisit someday.

    BTW, I didn't start this chain; Sarah did.

  2. Oops! I got the two of you confused! I'll fix the link right away.

  3. Great post. Yeah, I'm trying to ignore how passionate I felt about my first novel. Thankfully, I've kept that mess to myself (mostly LOL).

  4. My first novel was a contemporary romance, and when I started to query it I found out that historical romance was hot and contemporary was dead. So great timing on my part. But I agree, you can't write that first novel, or any novel thinking it will just end up under the bed. You need the motivation of believing it will end up on a bookstore shelf someday just to keep going forward.

  5. That was very cool of that agent. Did his suggestion sound interesting to you? And you're so right about just writing and not writing to a market. Trends change.

  6. Margie: It was at the end of the querying phase for that novel, and I was completely discouraged with the whole "writing" career that I might have given up. But his reason picked me up by my shoelaces and made me realize there might be other reasons the agent doesn't pick your book.

    And he was right. After doing more research, it wasn't the right book for the current market: which was strong female protagonist/antagonist. Not a market trend (at that time) for my book which had mostly male characters.

  7. Ha! So true. Sometimes, when I'm in a funk, I pull out the book I wrote before Deathday and realize just how terrible it was. Even since then I've written a couple of books that I won't show anyone, and I've learned so much from both of them.

  8. Love that!!! Thanks Michelle.

  9. That's a great piece of advice to keep in mind. It is hard to let go of that first novel.

    Congrats to you! Hope you and your bundle of joy are doing well.

  10. I still have a very harsh but very deserved letter from an editor passing on my first book - a book that will (thankfully) never see the light of day. So I know EXACTLY what you are talking about!


All comments are welcome. Thanks for stopping by!