Sunday, 22 August 2010

My First Novel

After reading Talli Roland's My Rejection Love Affair blog post, I started reminiscing about my first novel, Hear On Earth (formerly entitled All Systems Go). I should say at this point that I've never finished or submitted a novel; only three and a half chapters of Hear On Earth were written. But the important thing is that it was my first attempt at writing a novel.

Hear On Earth was a science fiction novel, based on an idea I'd had in my late teens. I won't go into too much detail about the plot and characters, other than to say that there were two main protagonists, one from present day Earth, and the other from another world and the not to distant future. They start off unaware of each other, but by the fourth chapter their lives start to converge through a series of disastrous events.

When I think back about Hear On Earth, three things strike me. Firstly, it has been 14 years since I wrote those three and a half chapters. The LSO and I didn’t own a computer, but were fortunate to end up babysitting a PC whilst friends of ours spent four months travelling. The PC was rented (they were too expensive to buy then), and everything was saved to floppy discs (if you were lucky, you maybe got a chapter on one disc!). I was 24 and full of such enthusiasm, but at the same time I was absolutely sure that what I'd written was nowhere near good enough, and this scared me enough to stop writing. I gave up.

Secondly, I no longer have it. In a fit of temper, I threw the manuscript and the floppy discs away. I can't believe I did that. It is one of my biggest regrets, because I’d love to be able to look back on my writing as it was then and compare it to now. Unfortunately, that will never happen.

Thirdly, although I don’t have the original version, I’ve come to realise in the last few days that I still remember those chapters as if it were yesterday. If I had to write it today, I could. I can recall character, place, and chapter names. I can recall each scene, each chapter. It is as if the very process of committing those words to paper years ago has etched it into my memory, forever. Of course, if I sat down to re-write it now it would end up being radically different. I’ve learnt enough in the last 18 months to know that much would need to be changed.

I am seriously considering starting Hear On Earth again – I have such bittersweet memories of it, and I feel that it would be like coming full circle with my writing – but I can’t decide if it is a good idea or not. What do you think?

Do you remember stories you wrote many years ago with such clarity? Have you experienced the same feelings as I about wanting to complete an unfinished project? Is there a dusty manuscript or disc sat in the draw waiting to be finished or do you just keep them as a reminder of what might have been?

10 comments:

  1. I've got some work I produced in the 80s, typed up on a Olivetti portable typewriter. One MS was to be a children's book. I have looked it over once or twice but, each time makes me realise why it didn't make the grade, way back then. That's not to say that all fading manuscripts aren't worth a re-write. If there's strength left in the plotlines, characters, etc, then why give up on it?

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  2. I think the fact that you remember the novel so vividly, even though all physical evidence of it is gone, is a sign. It's calling you to write it. :)

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  3. Oh go on please write it again!! I think you should! You have such powerful emotions about this ms that I really think that if you wrote it down now - it'll be written with mature and experienced eyes so it'll only be better!!

    Good luck!!!

    Take care
    x

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  4. I'm with Janel on this one. I think you know you have to. Otherwise you wouldn't be asking.

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  5. I think you should start it again as well.
    I know im much younger and haven't been writing as long but i know i have my stuff from the starting of high school on elfwood. And i keep finding notebooks with stories in them and i can vouch thats its nice to look back on you writing and see how far you have come.

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  6. Thank you for all being so encouraging. I guess I'm 90% sure I should do it, but there's the 10% doubt in the back of my mind about whether it would be a strong enough idea. It's so hard. Maybe I should re-write the first three chapters and see how I feel after that?

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  7. The novel I'm actually finishing right now is one I came up with when I was 17ish. I've started it so many times and now it's complete and going through edits. It's a good feeling. Actually, most of the novel ideas I have in my mind are those I came up with in my later-teens. Maybe I'll call that my "Creative Period" haha.

    You should test the waters with your novel and see where it takes you! You never know.

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  8. Definitely, go for it! I have destroyed floppy disks and MS's of children's stories I wrote years ago and wished I hadn't too.
    I think the fact that the story still gives you that excited buzz of discovery is telling you to get writing!
    Madeleine x

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  9. I still look at my first novel and wonder if I could make something *anything* of it now. I think my main problem was I wrote in 75,000 words what I could have said in 5,000. :-)

    Good luck with trying your first novel again! x

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  10. I've had a story in my head since I was in my teens and a couple of years ago decided to write it as a novel. Finished it (120,000 words) but it was terribly melodramatic and needless to say rejected a few times before I rejected it myself. But I haven't given up on it and neither should you.

    You cared enough to put the work into it then and you can bring a greater maturity/more experience to it now. And isn't it about strong characters as much as the 'idea'? Go for it!

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