Monday, September 20, 2010

The dreaded question

As I was in my daughters school last week, gently nudging the principal to let me hold a used book drive there, I ran into one of the teachers. Not just any teacher, but the one I'd first done the Young Writers Program with. She was going on about much she loves the program because it gets her students so excited about writing, but she also asked the dreaded question: "So, do you have your novel published yet?"

She wasn't even asking about the novel I've been slaving over for years, rewriting, editing , querying for a short time and now working on again. No, she was asking about my first NaNo novel. The one that hasn't even seen the light of critiquer's eyes yet. The one I've only started a much needed rewriting effort on after letting it sit for four years. This novel being the one I wrote alongside her class to prove that I could write 50,ooo words in thirty days so they also could meet their writing goals.

I'm convinced she purposely hunts me down every year just to lob guilt monkeys at me.

"No." I go on to explain, like I do every year, that I'm using NaNo as an outlet to try new things and to apply what I've learned over that year. How I use NaNo as a break from working on the one novel that I'm really trying to get ready and out into the big world. I then am happy to finally be able to add that I do have a short story out soon, and did have some progress with my efforts toward getting a novel published, but it's not there yet.

For some reason, while this makes me feel positive, it's never quite enough for those who don't know better. "Oh, well that's nice."

I want to explain that you can't turn around and submit your NaNo-wonder-suck-novel to publishers in December, and that the publishing industry grits their teeth every December for just that reason. I want to tell her that what I churn out in November is a horrible rough draft and nothing even close to an actual finished novel. In fact, I am tempted to go on and on, but I know her eyes will glaze over in two seconds and we both have better things to do. Instead, I smile, nod and make a mental note to pick up extra bananas on the way home.


  1. At least you've found a way to cope with the question! My step-mother thinks that my first story is going to be as big as Harry Potter. Though I find it sweet and a total boost to my ego I know it's not reality. In fact she thinks the way I have the novel right now I'd be able to sell it.

    This WiP was written in 3 1/2 weeks, there are no dialogue tags, no spaces, no paragraphs, no chapters, and the beginning doesn't match the end. Bestseller? I don't think so.

    Looks like I'll be picking up extra bananas on the way home as well :)

  2. *snicker*

    I actually like some of my NaNo novels. Things get wonderfully creative when I have a deadline.

  3. @Jen - Auww support is sweet, even if its uninformed. :) Let's hope there's a sale on those bananas!

    @Liana - I like mine too, but I know they are way not ready for even the remotest possiblity of publication yet. ;)

  4. Well - I suppose this isn't the time to say that I'm polishing up a NANO novel from 2 years ago and looking forward to writing a second one. (Look - monkeys! All kinds of monkeys!)

    (Ducks behind the desk.) :-P


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