My first book is like settling for a shake when I should have waited for the banana split. It’s like nails on a blackboard. I cringe when I read it. It’s like writing an essay on a subject before you’ve taken the course. Yes, my writing back then, was to me, that atrocious. Why on God’s green earth was I that terrible? And whatever gave me the idea that someone would willingly read that crap without a gun to their head? .
Let me tell you something about us writers. We are a stubborn lot. We are way prouder than we have a right to be in the beginning. We think our newbie stories are flawless, when in fact, they are filled with enough purple prose, and meaningless dialogue to make someone want to take a flying leap off a building to avoid reading them. And that’s without mentioning the plot holes and characters that have about as much entertainment value as a rock. I meant no offense to you rock collectors. But seriously. We are so in love with our terrible creations that we shuffle them around to friends and family and expect that after reading our garbage, they’re going to be chomping at the bit to call us up and tell us how magnificent they are. And when one of them has the gall to be honest, we convince ourselves that they are an evil person getting back at us for neglecting to invite them to our Christmas party that time seven years ago. And this, my friends, goes on and on, until…
…we get nowhere. Until every agent in New York City has either responded to our submissions with six months of dreaded silence before sending a form rejection or came right out and told us how much we suck. You see, these folks are not like the loved ones we tortured with our tales. They will tell us the truth. And if we’re lucky, they will go a step further and critique some of our ghastly stories. It is at this point we begin to truly grasp how others view our work, and that the stories we crafted so lovingly are as delightful as a face plant after tripping up the stairs.
The problem is, for most writers, this moment of clarification comes after the first book has been written. And it’s even more tragic for us if the book has been published by a subpar publisher. These are the folks we were once idiots enough to believe hung the moon all because they agreed to publish our crappy stories. Now it’s out there for all the world to see. This is no fishing expedition. We don’t get to reel that catastrophe back in after we spend the next fifteen years refining our craft and wising up.
This is why authors hate their first book. In fact, we have nightmares about you reading it. We wish there was a bottomless pit we could cast it into and save the world from literary brain rot. But on that front, we are out of luck. We tried to walk before we could crawl. It’s as if we grabbed the biggest megaphone we could find and announced to the world that we just wrote the most cringeworthy story on the planet, and if you act fact, we’ll even throw in the first chapter for free. There are only so many corners of the globe we can run to, to escape that dreadful first book. But one day, to our utter horror, if it’s still out there we know you will stumble across it, and it doesn’t matter that you had a billion other titles to choose from. You will find that one unpolished novel we wrote before we grew a brain. And we feel badly for you. But more importantly, we hope you keep it to yourself.