First novels are supposed to suck. Not the first novel you publish, but the first novel you write. When you look back on it, when you read though it a few years after you’ve written it, it’s testament to how much you’ve learned and how you’ve honed your craft, and you can be honest and completely objective and say, "what the hell was I thinking?"
And once you get past the cringe, and the embarrassment that you had the balls, and the gall, to submit it to an agent and/or publisher you again say, "what the hell was I thinking?"
After you get over that, you read the dead tree, the door stop, the chunk of paper that is your first baby and, because it’s your baby you can see the redeeming parts, after all mothers love their children, regardless if they’re not-so-pretty.
So here’s what I did. I took out Smoke Gets in Our Eyes and I said, "What the hell was I thinking?"
Along the way I groaned inwardly, like a parent who’s forced to watch their daughter’s graceless ballet recital or school play. But the funny thing is, like that mom or dad out in the audience, I can see the goodness that’s within my kid. Maybe little Smoky can’t dance, maybe her timing is off, but she sure can sing. I can see what I gave birth to isn’t ALL that bad. In fact, there are some downright wonderful bits that are evidence of what my writing strengths are now.
And because I know what I’m good at now–I know I have a voice, a style, and I’m rather good with dialogue–I started to re-write. I’m weeding out all the shitty bits, combing through the rough patches, cutting off the hairy bits that are gummed up, and polishing the parts that gleam to make them really shiny.
I’ve had dance lessons and I’ve learned to count and I could always sing. Now I know I can write too.
Perhaps the first incarnation of Smoke Gets In Our Eyes sucks like a black hole, but after a big bang, it’s going to come out the other side, in an alternate universe where it will glitter like a star against the inky night sky.
Or it’ll still suck.
But I’m willing to take that chance.