It is rare that an author can pen a novel for the first time and have it be pristine enough to make it past both an agent and a publisher. Many writers refer to their first novel as their “starter manuscript,” or their own personal education on how to “not” write a story. But many times that first novel owns a piece of our soul. It is an accomplishment that many people in this world cannot crow about , and with that distinction, many writers, including myself, find it very hard to put that precious baby away without ever introducing it to the public.
So the question then becomes how do you know if the blood, sweat and tears you’ve just poured into that beloved concept, should never see the light of day? A couple of things come to mind….
1) After letting the story marinate for weeks/months/years – you go back to it and realize the writing is at a novice level
2) You present it several times over to your CP, who keeps trying to warn you the plotting and structure are shaky
3) You query the heck out of it – and you get nothing but form rejections
Now with all that being said, that doesn’t mean the concept has to be buried somewhere deep in a drawer or in the bowels of a trunk. I’ve heard many stories of successful authors, who have gone back to their original work, and applied all their experience and knowledge to that first try. The result is something not only highly marketable, but a manuscript an author is proud to finally reveal to the world.
So if you’re like me, put that precious manuscript away. Hone your craft, learn from your peers, listen to the advice of agents and editors and work on something new. When you’ve reached your goals, and sharpened your pen, go back to that original idea with fresh eyes. The result may be something that you never imagined and a thousand times better than your original concept. It’s still your baby, it’s just dressed up pretty and finally ready to show off to the world.
What about you? Do you have a precious jewel of a manuscript locked away somewhere? What made you decide to put it away? Do you think you’ll ever go back and repolish it? Drop me a line, I’d love to hear about it!