How to Write a Failed Novel: Part 1

For those who can’t live without this information.

So what do I mean by “a failed novel”?

I mean a novel that sounded exciting when you wrote the first pages. A novel that still sounded exciting deep into the bliss of writing. A novel you had no trouble dashing through, day after day. A novel that made you love words and what you could make them do.

. . . . And a novel that, when you read the galley proofs, turned out to be terrible. Even you knew it was terrible. And you didn’t know what to do.

They’d already paid you the money. You’d already paid a year’s estimated taxes. You’d spent what was left so you could keep on writing. You couldn’t pay it back.

And you couldn’t pay what it would have taken to fix it. Even to fix what you knew how to fix.

And you couldn’t talk to your editor. You’d already found that out the hard way.

So how did this come about?

Well, for one thing, it happened because I didn’t know that a lot of what I thought I knew about writing for publication was myth. Wrong. And because I didn’t know important things about myself.

Maybe these things aren’t myths to you. Maybe they’re truths. If so, let me know.Here I’m going to just list them. Then I’ll come back and try to explain how I learned they aren’t true.

Myth No. 1: The book comes out of the writer’s head.

Myth No. 2: Good writers–and professionals–don’t ask for help when they need it.

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