Last week, I finished my first novel and as I wrote here, it was not a massive success. The pacing was as confused as a sloth in a Ferrari and character motivation had the consistency of custard. In fact, at just 59,000 words it’s probably not even a novel but hell, it’s longer than The Great Gatsby so I’m calling it one. Right now, I’m 50/50 whether I’ll ever open the Scrivener file which contains my untitled first book ever again. I know I should – I could probably learn a lot by rereading and editing it – but I just can’t face spending anymore time with my damn protagonist. The heroic Ernest Truncheon was supposed to be a charismatic and lovable lead, always ready with a witty wisecrack to break the tension of whatever thrilling situation I’d created for him and his co-stars. By chapter 45, I was ready to kill him off in a freak but brutal otter attack just so I didn’t have to listen to another line of his drudging dialogue.
The good news – spending so many long hours writing a story I neither believe in or like has not dampened my spirits, in fact it has undampened them. My spirits are as dry as a bone, completely parched. Arid spirits. You see, I was expecting this.
In my other life, I’m a teacher. I have been a teacher for longer than I ever intended to be and know more about teaching than I ever thought there was to know. As I’d like to tell my students, I’m fucking good at it. (I don’t tell them this because boastful use of the F word is still frowned upon – but I think they can tell.) However it wasn’t always like this. Sometimes I think back to my early classes and cringe. I remember with perfect clarity just how bad some of those lessons were, how many basic errors I made, how downright incompetent I was. I see myself floundering at the front of the class, failing to explain even the simplest of concepts and I want to jump right into the memory, smash my earlier self’s head against the whiteboard and rescue the students from this amateurish buffoon.
I like to remember these awful classes , not as a reminder of my failings but because it proves that the best way to get better at something is to do it. Do it long and do it often. And that’s what I intend to do with my writing.
So rather than letting my first effort get me down, I am soaring with unmoistened spirits into my second book. And now I have a great advantage – no matter how bad it is, it’s bound to be an improvement on what came before.
Book two here I come – operation make it adequate.
Thanks for reading,
Chris C Barnett
P.S. I realise that, like a terrible first date, I have spent this entire blog post talking about myself. Sorry. I promise that my next post will be completely free (or maybe mostly free) of narcissistic, self-important bullshit.