Writing a first novel is a long, lonely road. Oh, and it’s always night and there aren’t any street lamps. Each step is fumbled forward, small successes punctuated by an overall doubt that you’ve no idea if you’re going in the right direction. From concept to completion, a first novel is, well, a mess.
Here’s an analogy: say you’d only ever eaten gruel all your life, and one day, someone introduces you to McDonalds. Wow, how that burger tastes. It’s the best food in the world, you’re in no doubt of that. You finish that first burger, and then this mysterious food stranger takes you to a Michelin-starred restaurant. That burger doesn’t taste quite so good anymore. In short, that’s how my feelings for my first novel, Noah’s Ark, can be summarised. At the time I thought it was great; turns out I was wrong.
But for all you budding authors out there taking your first step, don’t take that as a negative, take it as a positive, a weight off your back that lets you relax in the knowledge that good books don’t happen on the first go. Think of something else you’re good at: were you world class the first time you did it? Some authors’ first novels are spectacular, others take a few goes to get into their stride, but its only by trying and failing that we find that out. Maybe my books will never be worth a damn, but I enjoy writing them, and I’m going to keep on trying, which is why I suppose that I’m not feeling too bad about Noah’s Ark — despite cultivating it over many years.
When I first self-published Noah’s Ark, I promised myself that if the rating slipped below 3.5 I would take it down. I’d feel bad about clogging up an already bloated market with yet another atrocity, and so when that final damning one-star review came in, I took it down. Soon it will be replaced with Vessel, through whatever journey it takes to get there, and hopefully this time I’ll do better. Maybe it’ll average out at 3.8 instead. If it does, I’ll take that as progress, work hard to bump my next novel up to a 4.0. Maybe one day I’ll breach the 4s and have something that an agent wants to represent.
In the meantime, Noah’s Ark isn’t gone and dead: I’ve popped a link to it on my dropbox account so you can download it for free if you want to. It’s here: https://andrewjamesmorgan.com/noahs-ark/
Perhaps if you’re a new author like me, it would be worthwhile to read parts, to try and understand what makes it sub-par and learn from it — a case study if you like. I’ll leave it to you to decide what doesn’t work; if you want to see if we’re thinking on the same page, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the meantime, happy reading, and thanks for stopping by.
Update on the search for an agent: I’ve had some positive feedback, some standardised rejections, but no full requests yet. Not what I’d hoped, but certainly what I’d expected. More on where I’m taking Vessel in its route to publication next time.