For the third, and last, day of the Dust it Off Bloghop, I'm supposed to post what I learned from WANDER. That's an interesting way to end, since I find that I've learned a lot thanks to this bloghop, looking back on the novel and thinking critically about it. I've had a lot of fun over the past couple days, and I'll definitely be willing to do more hops like this! Hmmm... I could even write a series about 'What I learned from my trunked novel.' We'll see. :)
Anyways, here are five things I learned from WANDER.
1- I CAN finish a novel. This was a big one for me. WANDER was the first novel I ever finished solo. I had written hundreds of pages on a fanfic before abandoning it, and then I had co-authored a mystery novel with a friend, but WANDER was my first personal project that I actually completed. Also, it was a great morale booster because I wrote the whole thing in 19 days and had only been brainstorming for several months. In short, it took me less than four months to create the novel, contrasted with years for my previous attempts.
2- Finishing the writing ain't the end of the process. Now, I never actually thought that writing goes straight from first draft to bookshelf, but this was a real eye-opener to how imperfect a 'finished' novel could be. While there's a lot of elements I love about WANDER, I also see all its flaws, in plot, character, and writing, and even now that I've trunked it I feel like I can't show anyone because I want to edit it first.
3- KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This is an acronym that my dad loves, and one that I need to consider when plotting my novels. I think the biggest problem with WANDER was simply how complicated it was. Everything made sense by the end of the third book, but for the rest it was just this huge tangled mess full of unrealistic elements. I think most readers would have given up rather than waiting for the end of the third book.
4- Religion matters. Another 'problem' with WANDER was that it dealt with Muslims and terrorists (and terrorists being Muslim.) While I did treat Muslims fairly (I had several Muslims read and enjoy the story) it is extremely hard to balance religions while writing for the secular market. For religious reasons, I think WANDER wouldn't have made it in the secular market, but a Christian publisher might have taken it.
5- What you learn matters more than the end result. When I finished WANDER I was so excited about finally having a finished product, something to perfect and then query with. Almost two years later, I still haven't started querying, but I've learned a lot about writing. Maybe, at some point, I'll re-do WANDER and try to get it published. Right now, I have no interest in doing that. Writing WANDER was just what I needed: it gave me a confidence boost, taught me about the writing process/plotting/religious themes, and basically just gave me experience as a writer. I've heard that you need to write a million words to become proficient as a writer. Whether or not that's true, it's undeniable that the more you write, the better you write. WANDER may never see the light of day, but the experience it gave me will shine in all my future novels.