First Novel??

I’ve always believed that people don’t ‘become’ writers. They just ‘are’ writers. Though for some people, it takes them a while to realise it. You can’t learn to be a writer, but you can learn to be a better writer, and this is a lifelong process. There is much to be said for experience, and I’m still learning, but I do believe that what I’m writing now is better than what I was writing 20 years ago.

However, the question of how many novels I have written depends on whether you’re looking at the ‘official’ count or the actual one.

The ‘official’ count doesn’t include the novel I wrote when I was 11, which really wasn’t very good but what does an 11-year-old know about writing? At that age, I didn’t like the fact that people in the books I read didn’t have breakfast or brush their teeth or their hair, or do all the mundane everyday things that real people did. So in my book my characters did all that, and naturally it made for a very boring read.

I also don’t include in the ‘official’ count the autobiographical novel I wrote in enrichment class in Junior High School about the girl who emigrated to Canada – mostly because I never finished it. Nor do I include the three or four ‘Star Wars’ fan fiction novels I wrote between the ages of 13 and 17 – because if they ever saw the light of day, I would be sued by George Lucas for all manner of copyright breaches.

The first ‘official’ novel, therefore, is the horror novel I finished when I was 17, because it was the first one I sent out to editors. I got a few encouraging rejection letters back, saying how they were always glad to hear from young people who liked to write, and that my writing showed promise, but I should probably try again in a few years, yada yada. OK, so this is Novel Number 1 and it was probably unpublishable because I was young and green and really didn’t know much about writing.

The I started Novel Number 2, which took 10 years to write, mostly because whenever I hit a tough point I would put it away for years at a time and allow myself to get distracted by Life Stuff. But when I finished it, it became the horror novel that I am now sending out. Novel Number 3 is the crime novel, also currently doing the rounds.

Which means the Work In Progress is officially Novel Number 4.

However, ‘first novel’ will have a different context altogether when I finally get one published. Will the first published novel be one of the ones already written, or a future novel that I haven’t even started yet? I guess we shall have to wait and see!


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