Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Novel Sucks, and I Think That's Great

By: Yesenia Vargas

Nano '11 was the year I made it through Nano and won.

On previous attempts I had crashed and burned only days (even hours) into the challenge.

Last year, about seven months pregnant, I was determined to finally write my first novel. I knew I had to write it before Andrea was born or it would never get done.

Well, I got it done.

Over fifty thousand words, and they all suck.


Yes, this novel is one of my biggest achievements, and I still remember the high I got when I typed the last line to the story's ending.

But ever since I wrote the first word, I knew it was bad. It reeked of first time writer. I know I probably did tell, don't show instead of show, don't tell. The characters were either not believable or flat. The plot was outright confusing (even to me) and about stuff I had no idea about. Don't even mention the ending. Even I didn't buy the happily ever after outcome.

I still haven't opened up the file since that night on November 30th.

Too scared, that's why.

I know there's a monstrous load of research, revision, and rewriting to do.

But you know what?

Even though my first novel truly sucks, I'm proud of it.

The truth is: it was liberating to write badly. Before, I was so scared to write badly that I just wouldn't write at all. Nano was the push (or painful kick in the rear) I needed to just sit down, write. and say “you know what, self? I don't care how much this novel sucks. I'm going to write the book anyways because I know I can always go back and fix things.”

I learned that allowing myself to write badly and not worry about it took the pressure to be perfect off. I could finally enjoy writing.

Now it's time to get that mentality back and start my second novel. It'll probably suck even worse than the first one.

It might not.

I won't know until I try.

And who knows? I might even open up that first novel file and start working on that, too.

What's the biggest lesson you learned from writing your first novel?


  1. I think that's a good attitude to have. Eventually it won't suck and you'll want to show it to people. Other writers. Might seem a bit daunting. Bear in mind they all sucked to start with too.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  2. Thanks, mood. Who knows? Maybe when I read through the manuscript, it won't seem as bad or as hopeless as it seems.

    How many novels did you write before you really felt confident?

  3. I started by writing short stories because my concern was I wouldn't have a complete story to tell. I was fine writing a good description or scene but didn't feel confident I could hold the reader's attenttion to the end, or that they'd enjoy it all the way through.

    I also used online workshops a lot to get feedback on those shorts. I wasn't that invested in them, they only took a week or so to write, so comments didn't bother me, I was just glad of the responses.

    I've now written two complete novels. I was convinced the first one was ready after a year of rewriting, but now i can see it still needs a lot of work. The second one is clearly a lot better and I'm focusing on that for now.


  4. I'm interested in writing short stories, too, so that I can gauge my writing ability. I feel pretty confident with grammar and such. To me, it's more a matter of being confident in what I'm writing about. I feel like I have lousy ideas, but I guess I just have to push those thoughts out of the way and write. I hope with more time I'll learn to get over that.

    What do you write about? I thought I was into fantasy, but now I think I might be interested in contemporary realistic fiction or even historical fiction.

  5. I write contemporary fiction. YA, romance and fantasy are probably the most popular genres at the moment. It is noticeable that most of these are variations on a theme. Good ideas are few and far between. Although that doesn't seem to stop them being published.


  6. Right. I feel like every few years there is a new fad and then the life is sucked out of it until we can't stand it anymore. And then we move on to something else. Being original in what I write is what I strive for. I think that's why I struggle with having confidence in my ideas.