On August 29, 2014, my first novel was released by The Wild Rose Press.
Well, that’s not entirely true. My first novel sits unpublished and unread (thank God!) in a closet next to a stack of shoe boxes. The book that was just published is my second novel.
My real first novel was a mess, though I didn’t know it at the time. It was bloated and meandering, filled with anemic characters who used wooden dialogue. There was no real plot, no riveting scenes, no memorable prose. I spent two years of my life working on a piece of junk. And it was the best thing I ever did for my writing career.
That first novel was my practice book. I learned more from writing an actual manuscript than I did from any class, workshop, or writers’ group. It had to be done: I had to write that first bad book to flush the crap from my system. Or at least most of it.
I seem to be in good company. Many of my author friends wrote one (or two or three) books before their “first” novel was published. Of course, some writers manage to sell their first project. But the rest of us needed years of practice before we were ready.
Back when I toiled over my real first novel, if anyone had told me that this was only a practice book, I would have been disheartened. Now I see the importance of that training period, and I’m grateful for the experience.
One day I’ll revisit my novel in the closet. I plan to tear the manuscript apart and reassemble it piece by piece until it’s an entirely different story—the story I wanted to tell originally but didn’t know how. In the meantime, I consider my unpublished book a reminder that writing, like anything else worth doing, takes hard work and perseverance.
For those of you who are published, did you sell your first novel? Or did you write a practice novel that is collecting dust?
Christy Effinger’s poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in various print and online publications. She lives near Indianapolis. Her website is www.christyeffinger.com
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Say Nothing of What You See by Christy Effinger
Published by The Wild Rose Press
When her aunt steps off a grain elevator into the emptiness of a prairie evening, Mira Piper loses her one protector. Chloe, her flighty mother, impulsively drags her daughter to Bramblewood, an isolated spiritualist retreat in northern Michigan, run by the enigmatic Dr. Virgil Simon.
Chloe plans to train as a medium but it's Mira who discovers she can communicate with the dead. When her mother abandons her, Mira discovers a darker aspect to Bramblewood: the seemingly kind doctor has a sinister side and a strange control over his students.
Then one winter's day Troy Farrington arrives, to fulfill his mother's dying wish and deliver her letter to the doctor. But calamity strikes and he finds himself a captive, tended by a sympathetic Mira. Haunted by her dead aunt and desperate to escape Bramblewood, Mira makes a devil's deal with Dr. Simon. But fulfillment comes with a steep cost...betrayal.
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