Monday, April 29, 2013

Guest post from Melissa Simonson, author of Blood Echo

The soft spot I once had for my first book, Blood Echo, is hardening rapidly.  I never thought it would happen—I thought I’d go to my grave holding it in a special place in my heart.  My very first, very dear characters are all in that book.  Two of them have been in my head since I was fourteen years old.  Sometimes I even have dreams about them.  If someone had told me a year ago that one day I would gnash my teeth at the thought of that book, I would have rolled my eyes.  Yeah, sure, whatever you say.  How could I hate the manuscript that started this whole writing obsession? 

Blood Echo has become that older sister you’re never better than.  I might consider renaming it ‘Marcia Brady’.  It’s always there, looming in the background, sticking out its tongue at me and laughing because nothing else I will ever come out with will be of the same caliber.

I’m working on my fourth manuscript right now.  I have the same beta readers for all my works in progress, and they all say the same thing: ‘This is nice…but it’s not as nice as your first book.’

It’s not a backhanded compliment; at least I don’t think it is, but it feels that way.  Whenever I think of that first book now, I grit my teeth and roll my eyes.  If it was a person I might consider punching it.  You wouldn’t be so pretty with a black eye, now would you?  I think.  ‘What’s so great about you,’ I wonder as I pound the keyboard while working on another manuscript.  ‘You’re not that great.  In fact, you suck, and I hate you.’

And it’s not that great!  When I started writing it, I was a wet-behind-the-ears naïve little youth, blissfully unaware of even the most basic rules of Writing 101.  I didn’t know the point of a semi colon or even the difference between a simile and a metaphor (I’m actually still a little fuzzy on the semi colon thing.)  The first drafts were emblazoned with the illustrious title of UNTITLED for the better part of three years.  They were Adverb Central, a heap of words with no concrete timeline or direction, a mess of disjointed flashback sequences and too many useless secondary characters.  I knew nothing about writing, and it was awesome—I didn’t second-guess myself then, because I was too ignorant to do so.  Then somewhere along the road the wet-behind-the-ears Melissa morphed into an annoying Nag Hag in the back of my head.  Now I can’t even write a sentence without thinking, ‘My son could probably write something better than this crap.  Delete that paragraph, it’s awful.  Better yet, trash the whole thing.  Yes, right now.’

I don’t imagine I’ll ever be able to completely hate it, but I shudder to think its cast a shadow over everything else I’ll ever write, and that every other character I come up with will always be stuck with second place. 

As I type this, I’ve realized my second book is called Doubles, which now seems horribly prophetic.  

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Rebecca Forster said...

Loved this entry. Very timely as I start my next book. Always in the back of my mind is "will readers like this as much as __________". There's always a blank to fill in. Hang in there.

June M. said...

I would think that your first book would always be very special because it is the first. But just like children, you will love all of them, just for different reasons at different times :)

Amber Daulton said...

Thanks for the giveaway!

Kamla L. said...

Blood Echo sounds deep, dark and intense...just my kind of read. Can't wait to read it. If Blood Echo is a as amazing as it sounds, you really shouldn't second guess yourself. Thanks for shring with us and for the giveaway!