Friday, July 24, 2009

That First Book

By Marcia Mickelson

I recently read on an agent's blog a bit of advice for first-time authors. She said write that first book, put it aside, write the next one and then send it in. What a great piece of advice. How many of us have that first book, tucked away never to be looked at again. I cringe any time I read my first manuscript. In fact, I try never to read it. It's really bad.

But it was a great lesson to me. I started my first manuscript in high school, finished it ten years later, and felt it was ready for submission. I read through a few editing books, did a little revision on it, had a friend read a little of it, and then submitted it. CRINGE.

I still can't believe I would submit that thing. It did teach me many lessons, though. My first manuscript showed me so many ways not to write a book. I learned a lot writing it and reading through it which has helped me in subsequent books.

I truly believe that first manuscripts are not meant to be submitted. They are learning tools. If you were to enter a baking contest, would you submit the first batch of cookies you made? Or, would you make several batches until you were sure you had it right and then submit it? If you were going to try out for American Idol, would you just show up and sing a song or would you practice it many, many times until you had it just right before you sung it for Randy, Paula, and Simon?

It's the same way with our manuscripts. Write that first one, get it out of the way, then write the next one. There is something to that old adage- practice makes perfect. It's probably the second or in my case, the third manuscript, that is finally ready for submission and publication.


Nichole Giles said...

Amen to that thinking! I also submitted my first ms--much to my embarrassment and chagrin. However, it is now safely tucked away in a computer file (the paper copy at the back of a closet somewhere) never to be looked at again. Or, so I hope.

But I learned a lot from writing it. Now, I'm on #5, and it is much, much better.


kersten campbell said...

So true! 1st manuscripts ARE just learning tools. I felt so happy when I realized that!