I have a major problem. Well, it isn't a major problem, but it's one that I'd much rather focus on instead of everything else that I've been dealing with lately.
Do I take the time and energy to edit and revise my finished novel - one that I'm not going to do anything with other than consider it practice, or do I forge ahead and continue with my research and basic plotting of my next novel? Here's the dilemma: I acknowledge and understand the importance of rewrites. No one writes a perfect first draft. I know this from my career as a grant writer. I used to pressure myself to write the perfect first draft, but inevitably, no matter how long I held onto that grant and tweaked and searched for just the right words, my boss would return it covered in red pen. I learned to write a draft and get it to her as soon as possible, because no matter what, I'd have to revise. I understand that it's also part of the learning curve when it comes to writing fiction. It's an important step and I need to learn how to do it. Right now, I have no clue how to tackle this thing. Parts of it are utter garbage, while other sections are beautifully descriptive. I know where the gaps are and I know that it's going to take a lot of work to make it something I would let someone read (even my sister or husband). I don't mind doing the work, but I'd really like to start Novel #2 to coincide with the start of NaNoWriMo 2010 - November 1st, and there's no way I can revise my first novel and get myself prepared for the second novel in a little over four weeks.
I don't want to abandon this novel because I'm proud, not necessarily of what is written on all those pages, but because I actually did it. I do believe that the idea I have for the second novel is much stronger. I think the characters are better developed and overall I think the plot is more interesting. Maybe I should just look at the first novel as practice. An experiment. An example of my persistence and drive. Maybe I should put it away and focus on the second novel. I toy with the idea of doing both - revising for the next couple of weeks and then researching/plotting the second half of October, but I don't think my brain can handle it. I feel rushed and that is coming through in the revision process. Sure I can edit all the grammar and move around a few sections, but I haven't really delved into the true revisions - making my characters stronger, adding or cutting subplots, ramping up the conflict, etc. That not only takes time, it takes thought. It takes focus and concentration, and I don't feel like I'm willing to give that right now. I think I'd rather take that energy and put it into a better idea.
I really feel like I'm skipping a step in the novel-writing process. Kind of like I'm collecting my $200 without crossing Go. I feel as though other writers will look at me and say, "You can't move on to a second novel when you really haven't finished the first." I also feel a little sad to be giving up on this novel. I like it, but I don't love it. With everything going on in our lives right now, I don't feel like I have the time and energy to spend on something I don't feel passionate about. Maybe someday I'll go back to it, but I think that the more I write - the more experience I get and more I learn about the craft - I won't feel so bad about letting it go.
So here's to a new idea and the next novel.