I finally gathered up the courage to begin reading my NaNoWriMo novel Glitch. And wouldn’t you know? It’s a hot mess. Am I exaggerating? I wish. I wish I could sit here and say, “Wow, I’m surprised. I’m so pleased with the work I put into it in those 30 days. There are some real gems there.” But I’m not, and there aren’t any.
I printed out all 116 pages since I prefer editing by hand too. I held this huge stack of paper in my hands and was in awe. I was in awe because it looked like a novel. It was 116 pages of words that I had written about one set of characters, and I wrote it in 30 days. That was impressive, but my admiration ended there. I cracked open the novel and read the first sentence: “The clock ticked.” and that was it. I hated it. How could three words be so destructive, especially when they’re not “I hate you.” or “You disgust me”?
But I pushed forward. It could only get better, right? Beginnings are always disastrous at first. At the end of the first paragraph, my red pen flew to the page. I made a bracket to the side and scribbled, “explain his haste better—make the reader feel it.” and mumbled to myself, “You don’t even feel it.” I knew why he was urgent and still didn’t feel it. Expecting the reader to empathize with the character in that badly written scene is like asking a newborn to read The Great Gatsby to you—impossible.
Of the first twenty pages, the only pages I’ve had courage enough to read, my remarks are all disparaging. Who is he talking about? Useless. Doesn’t make sense. Why? Why?? Why! And finally, CUT THE WHOLE SCENE! I couldn’t do it, though. I couldn’t X through that whole scene. Why? It’s not like it had any redeeming qualities to it. Yet, it slid by with only a reminder to cut it. It seemed a waste to discard it right then and there when I had worked so hard for a month, but therein lies the problem. Sometimes you have to get rid of it, and I know that. I wrote a long long long short story once. It was way too long to be submitted to any magazine. I accepted the fact and then slashed into bits and pieces, cutting it from 13,000 to 4,000 words. I have to accept that fact again with Glitch, but I’m not there yet. I’m frustratingly still too sentimental over the hours spent on it. Until then, I’ll continue to read it, marking it up with disparaging comments until I’ve finished all 116 pages. Maybe by then I’ll see it for what it is—a bunch of words that needed to be written and thrown away in order to get to the good stuff.