Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Worst Novel Ever Written

by Michele Feltman Strider

After my first book Homecoming: A Novella was published, I wrote a second one.

Nope. Not Hometown. That's actually number three.

My second book is an untitled novel that will never see the light of day.

It was set in Miami and featured an heiress/socialite named Rachel.

And, dear lord, is it awful.

The first problem was the characters. There was:
  • Madeline, Rachel's mother, a flighty, spoiled widow with a mysterious past...
  • Alexander, a handsome, older, Eastern European businessman with a mysterious past...
  • Ian, the charming British advertising wizard with a mysterious past...
  • And so on and so on and scooby dooby dooby

There were at least six major characters, all with mysterious pasts. I'm telling you, Agatha Christie would have loved these people – but she'd have been the only one.

The settings were all ultra-fabulous: chic Miami art galleries, glamorous clubs in South Beach, a stunning wooden yacht on Biscayne Bay... There was even a whirlwind trip to Paris to go lingerie shopping.

And let's not even get into the sex scenes. Really. Let's just don't.

Halfway through reading it, my most respected and cherished editor said, as lovingly as possible, “I'm not really sure why I'm reading this.”

Which was a valid question. I wasn't really sure why I'd written it... or why it turned out so badly.

Some sections are decent, I think. I've even culled a good monologue or two from it. The book as a whole, though – disastrous.

And that's OK.

Since then I've spent time with it, analyzing why it doesn't work, and that exercise has served me well. So did failing.

Too often we stifle ourselves with the blanket question “What if I screw up?”

Chances are good that you will, the first time... and maybe the second, third, fourth, and eighty-ninth times, too. Everyone does. The popularity of pencil erasers, liquid paper, and the delete key are evidence of that fact.

As for my truly awful second novel, though no one else will ever, ever lay eyes on it, I've decided to keep it on my backup drive, so I can revisit it from time to time. Like a child's height chart on the kitchen wall, looking back on it will show me how much I've grown.

Reward doesn't come without risk and every failure is an opportunity for growth. Backsliding only means you have work to do to catch up and falling down just gives you a chance to try again. The steeper the mountains you climb, the more rewarding the view from the summit. 

Today's lesson: I get knocked down, but I get up again. You're never gonna keep me down. (Enjoy the earworm...)

Next: Depends on what I run across on YouTube.

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