Why Remembering Your First Novel Matters

My first novel came to me in a dream in grade six, Twilight-style. It included a talking unicorn named Silki (with an i, not a y), a farm boy named Wesley (sound familiar?) and Seamus, the son of an Irish duke. The main character was a very clear self-insert, and I even put my actual dog, Tessa, into the story as (you guessed it) Tessa.

It was super weird and contrived, and I cringe every time I read it. It’s bad, plain and simple. But I still think it’s important to think about because it shows how much I’ve grown as a writer. That story, with its unoriginal characters and cliché storyline, was my first ever attempt at a novel. Now, after eight years, three failed attempts at novels, and two successful ones, I can still see a clear path from that story to my newest one. It’s what started me on this journey and sparked my love for writing, and just for that, it was worth it.

The truth is, I still have a lot to learn. I’m not a perfect writer by any means, and there are times when I think I’m not good enough. But remembering how much I’ve grown from then to now—or even from my first completed novel to my second—is astronomical. There’s a constant pressure improve in this world, and that can create a lot of self-doubt. The truth is, you already are better. When I started skiing at nine, I could barely do a beginner hill on my own. Now, I can do double black diamonds. Just by practicing, by doing things over and over again, you will necessarily improve. And looking back on the progress you’ve made can offer some pretty great motivation, too.

And maybe another couple years from now, I’ll look back on what I’m writing now and think it’s horrible. And a couple years after that, maybe I’ll do the same thing. That’s just how it is. We’re constantly improving, changing, and bettering ourselves.

After all, the only way forward is up.

First novels are rarely very good, and a lot of times, writers want to forget about them. Here's why I think it's important to remember those first novels, and why they can help motivate you to become a better writer.
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What was your first novel?

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