A First Novel Finish

What’s it like to finish a novel? I’m unsure because I don’t think I’ve ever finished one. But that brings into question what the word “finished” even means in regards to a piece of writing. My first novel, which so also my thesis, which I’ve been working on for the last 3 years, has reached a “finish” of sorts, in which I’ve sent it off to a second reader. This means my thesis adviser has decided that, yes, he thinks this is worth publishing. But is it finished? I feel exhausted searching it these days, it’s just tiring trying to understand where it needs work. I think it accomplishes some of the things I’ve set out to do it in, but I’m also sure it falls flat in other places. And I’ve read it so many times I can’t tell what it’s doing well and what it’s not.

I wonder if people will some day read it and feel as though the characters I’ve created are real, or just cardboard. Some writers hit it big with their first novel. They blow everybody away and then are forever trying to live up to their previous work. I don’t want be like that, but I don’t want to be a flop either. Mid-list, I think, may be the best a debut novel can hope for. The pressure of the second book isn’t as great as it might be, the success of the first book is positive, but not overwhelming in its praise.

But then, what kind of authors even get to that mid-list point. It’s difficult to break into the publishing world, but then again, it’s also easier than ever before. The gatekeepers are frantic–it seems they’ve lost the keys. Amazon is bookstores worst nightmares and author’s best friend in many regards. While people love to slam Amazon, the giant corp does more for getting authors paid than almost any other company in the world–and that’s impressive.

But there’s no doubt that physical bookstores have their place and need to be preserved as much as possible. Readings and the social interaction that comes with them is essential for readers and writers and without this authors who aren’t well known fall easily into complete anonymity.

Small presses and indie presses are now publishing much of the great literature, but they don’t have the distribution to get it to the people who need it most. It’s all just a confusing time and finishing my first novel, instead of making things seem easier, have just raised more questions than ever before.

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