You know, we can say “to shelve a book” but we can’t say “to drawer a book,” because that’s just silly and grammatically wrong. The reason this seems relevant is because I don’t feel that my NaNoWriMo novel deserves a shelf – it really deserves the depths of a well-lined, jumbled and often-neglected drawer.
I’m not being self-pitying. I know that there are good elements in it. The teacher who leads my writing workshop at school gave me all sorts of compliments – he said that my observations are a lot more mature than my age warrants, that each scene on its own was interesting, engaging and enjoyable, and that I managed to keep my images from becoming clichés. BUT – and I agree entirely – there isn’t enough of a thread leading through the novel. It started as one thing, and ended up as something else entirely.
There are too many narrative voices – two of them I had planned as the main characters, but then two more cropped up during the process of writing. Each of those separate voices could easily take over the novel from the original characters.
Most importantly, there wasn’t a clear, driving force. The two short stories that I wrote for this workshop – and that I’m quite proud of – each had the feeling that there was a deep, emotional connection between the writer and the narrative. I had reasons for writing those stories; unconscious reasons, but their presence was nevertheless present. The novel didn’t have that.
I also feel that unlike my previous three novels, I really didn’t know what I was doing with this one. It was an experiment, more than anything, in writing about people who I didn’t like so much, with whom I had a harder time identifying. I wouldn’t say that the experiment failed, because I feel that the fifty thousand words I wrote are a jumping off point that might lead to two or three entirely separate novels, eventually.
It’s kind of nice to know that I can put this piece of writing away, even though I spent so much time on it, without mourning for it or feeling like I failed. I know how to handle criticism and I seem to be learning how to evaluate my own work. It feels good to be able to do that.