For most published authors, the first book they share with the world is not the first book they have written. More likely it’s their second, third or maybe even the seventh.
The point is, most writers have a book in the drawer.
Personally, that book is the first novel I ever completed, a contemporary women’s fiction titled AFTER THE BREAK. Typing “The End” on that book was a game changing moment for me. It was the moment I proved to myself that I could actually write a novel, even if it took me ten years to do it.
That’s not a typo. It took me a decade from when I started the book to when I finished it. And that is one of the main reasons AFTER THE BREAK, at least in its current form, is destined to live in a drawer.
When I started writing this book, I wasn’t a very good writer. I wasn’t terrible but I definitely needed to work on my craft. The first six chapters of AFTER THE BREAK were written as part of a Fiction Writing Course I took when my oldest daughter was just a year old. I signed up for the course on a whim, and was just as excited about getting out of the house one night a week as I was about working on a book.
I was dedicated to the writing process for the duration of the course but when it ended, and I no longer had an instructor and fellow students holding me accountable, I stopped writing and the book went into a (you guessed it) drawer.
Where it languished until the daughter that had only been a year old when I started writing it turned nine and decided to write her own book. It was a hallelujah moment for me. Her interest in writing gave me permission to do it too. It was something we could do together.
AFTER THE BREAK came out of the drawer and I worked hard to get it finished. I workshopped it with others. Tore it apart with my CP. Pitched it to agents at my first writers conference and got two requests! I was certain this was the book that would launch my literary career. Convinced one of the agents that read it would sign me immediately and sell it. Maybe even at auction.
Yeah. That didn’t happen.
Not with that book. But finishing AFER THE BREAK showed me that if I had the ability to write 90,000 words that connected even just one person once, I could do it again. So I started over with a new idea that was yelling at me to be written. I started writing CAN’T TAKE IT BACK and that became the book I was destined to debut with.
What am I trying to tell you? Well, it’s as simple as this. Not every book you write will get published. Not every germ of an idea will turn into a great story as you work through it. Even if you write the book of your heart, not everyone will see the potential like you do.
And that’s okay.
Publishing is about the long game. You don’t just have one book in you so don’t be afraid to put something aside that isn’t working and start something new.
Never feel sad (or bad or mad) about the book in the drawer. Think of it as a story that needed to be written to get you to where you are now. And remember, it will always be there for you, whenever you need a reminder of what you are truly capable of.