Erica posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
I have this idea for a book that I came up with when I was 14 (ten years ago). I never got serious about writing it, but overtime as I matured my idea matured as well into a complex story. Now I’m pretty serious about getting this thing written. However, I have this fear that after I get it published that I won’t be able to let it go. Throughout the ten years my story has grown, like solving a puzzle, and I’m afraid that afterward ideas for it will still keep coming. Or I’m afraid that I’ll change my mind on something. Does this happen to published authors?
Randy sez: I’m sure it does. I occasionally think of things I’d like to change in my published novels. I know a lot of authors wish they could take back their entire first two or three novels so nobody could see what dreadful writers they used to be. (These are typically those “lucky” authors who sold their first attempt at a novel. Those of us who were “unlucky” and wrote five or six pieces of crap before we got published generally feel a lot better about our first published work.)
Here’s the thing: Write the book. There is one thing worse than wishing you could change something in a novel you published: Failing to ever publish a novel at all.
You can deal with letting your novel go when you’ve got it written. That’s a happy problem to have. But you can’t let it go until it’s written. Write your novel.
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer them in the order they come in.
Hollywood does that sort of thing all the time. George Lucas did that with Star Wars when he released the Special Edition versions. There are others too, like: “Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut”, or any number of “Director’s Cut” versions. Of course, that’s a whole other industry.
In the writing industry, am I correct in thinking you could make changes in a second edition? I’ve heard of it being done in non-fiction, but I don’t think I’ve heard of it being done in fiction.
Christina Summers says
I know that when a popular romance author re-releases a novel (maybe with a different publisher) they will make updates like changing VCR to DVD, and fix any spelling errors etc. Obviously, these are only surface changes and not deeper level stuff. I’m only a freshman though, so maybe someone actually has experience with this?
My problem with letting go is a little different.
I wrote the novel a year ago and I’ve been editing it ever since. I had it printed out two weeks ago to let my friends read it (for the second time) because it was an entirely different story by then. And now (before they’ve finished reading it), my fingers are itching to rewrite the whole first chapter and delete a chunk of the second chapter.
All this is *after* I paid a fortune to have it edited by a freelance editor.
How – oh how – do you let go of your novel once it’s “finished”?
Kim Miller says
You let go of novel #1 by writing novel #2.
#2 gives you a different perspective. You are more mature, you’ve had some experience with editors, you’ve met authors who’s work you have admired, you can see your work as one among many, you find that looking forward allows you to take your eyes off the rear vision mirror ….
There are probably a few I’ve left out. 🙂
And at some point—when that novel is doing nothing but lying around eating up all your food, using all the hot water, not doing his own laundry, not even looking for a job—your gut will know and you’ll be more than ready to kick the kid out. Or so I’m told.
Very helpful Camille and Kim. Thanks.