So I’ve spent the last four hours in the final revisions of the first five chapters of my novel. And there’s a strange finality to this.
I mean, don’t get me wrong; I’ve still got 90,000 words to condense, edit, and rewrite. But the first chapters of the novel are the most important – agents routinely ask for the first three chapters, and if those aren’t good, you might as well toss the rest of the novel away.
And it’s done. I’ve got a little more to do in terms of reading it aloud to check for grievous errors… But that’s a minor thing. I’m not going to change the content. I’m not going to change the prose. If the novel’s going to sell anywhere, effectively this is the part that sells it.
I’m strangely comfortable.
Look, I could make this novel a lot better if I gave another, oh, seven drafts, but I don’t have the energy for that. What I’ve got is what I think of as “That Borders feeling.”
Because back when I worked for Borders, I was in charge of the New Media department, which meant that I was trying to sell CD-ROMs in a book store. It didn’t go well. Unlike books, computer software was high theft and low profit margin and required a lot of hand-holding to sell. I poured my entire life into trying to make New Media a profitable segment of Borders, but after a year it was pretty self-evident that it was folding.
And I was okay. Because I’d done everything I could do. I’d given all there was to give – and wrung dry of anything left to chance, I’d be all right if it collapsed. Not happy, but content.
That’s where I stand tonight. This opening segment’s been rewritten probably seven times now, and if it’s not good enough, well, I don’t know how to make it better. If I can’t get the novel published, well, it’s not for lack of trying.
So here I am, on a Friday night, looking at 9,500 words and feeling – well, “proud” is not the right term. I’m satisfied. And that’s not a bad place to be.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.