Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Ultimate Novel

Good Morning. Today I want to discuss The Ultimate Novel. The one book in the whole world that you would go through hell fire and back again for. The one that makes your heart race and keeps your fingers turning the pages. The one that you cannot put down, no matter how much the kids, the hubs, the dogs are screaming for dinner.

I'm talking about yours. Your book. The one that's kept you up well past bedtime going over that one niggly scene. The one that's fried your brain trying to find all the 'thats' and 'was' and 'just' and 'reallys'. The one that drove you to go to the optometrist for a new prescription because the dollar store cheapies just weren't cutting it anymore.

The Ultimate Novel that is either going to make, or break you.

I've written three. So far. I'm not broken, yet, but I'm also not made. It's been an ongoing battle to find the right words, to hone my craft, to distinguish between good writing and lazy writing. This writing thing I do keeps me up at night fine- tuning my scenes, my plot lines, my characters. It gives me ideas at the most inconvenient times, like a funeral, a graduation, Home Depot, and I'm usually without a piece of paper, so any scrap will do until I can get home and type away at the keyboard.

The Ulitmate Novel. I know when I let my beta readers finally read it, my stomach turns itself inside out a thousand times before I hear back from them. And you know, it's not about if the book is good or bad or needs work, it's about them reading it. It's about finally having an audience for something I've written.

That to me is what The Ultimate Novel is. It's not really about being published, or getting an agent, or even making the NY Times best seller list. It's about being read. It's about having someone tell me, "Hey, that was a pretty good book." It's about knowing that I touched someone else with something I've written. That alone is worth the hours struggling, writing, deleting, rewriting, editing, formatting.

What does The Ultimate Novel mean to you?

30 comments:

Laura Pauling said...

I guess it means one that i'm most excited and passionate about that someone gets to read, even if it's my crit partners!

Jennifer Shirk said...

"The one that drove you to go to the optometrist for a new prescription because the dollar store cheapies just weren't cutting it anymore." LOL!!
Every book I finish and submit (not that there's been that many) becomes the Ultimate Novel to me. It's the one I'm most consumed with and excited about and cant wait to get feedback on. :)

Ted Cross said...

I see how much better I am in my subsequent novels, and I dare to wonder, could this new book that feels so amazing perhaps be a bestseller, beyond mere publishing?

Creepy Query Girl said...

Yes, finally letting somebody else read it is all the real validation I need. It makes it real- this world I've been living in all on my own for months. Great post!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

That's what it means to me, too. It also means something I'm so passionate about, nothing else matters. It means something I'm willing to rewrite several times to get it right.

Christine Danek said...

Same thing. When someone reads it and says they love it. To me that's the best feeling of all.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks everyone! It's funny when I wrote this post, I thought it was kind of lame, but I see now, I'm not the only one who shares these feelings about our writing.

It's a gift to be able to write words, string them into sentences and form a story. And it's a gift from God when others think the story is great. I do feel blessed and humbled when others want to read what I've written.

Em-Musing said...

My "ultimate novel" will be in bookstores one day. I'll be able to feel the weight of it, see the pages bound, admire the cover art (that I wasn't sure would work), and that's when I know it's real.

Liza said...

You have it exactly right Anne.

Rebecca Kiel said...

To me it, it is when it touches someone. Liking it is fantastic, but when it reaches a part of them deep inside, that is the ultimate.

Linda G. said...

My ultimate novel is always whichever one I'm working on at the moment. If I didn't feel that way about it, it would be impossible for me to finish. :)

Anne Gallagher said...

These are fantastic responses and I thank each and every one of you for sharing. It's the Ultimate Blog Post.

Sarah Ahiers (Falen) said...

this just reminds me of how badly i want an agent

Bossy Betty said...

I would like to write a novel and have people tell me it really touched their lives. Oh, and I would like them to buy me lunch because of it too.

Taryn Tyler said...

To me the ultimate novel is the one I feel like I've put every piece of myself I possibly can into.

notesfromnadir said...

I've never thought of each of my books as the ultimate novel. Maybe I used to, just never used that term.

Domey Malasarn said...

Anne, I totally connect with your last two paragraphs in this post. That's what it's all about.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

The Ultimate Novel is where you pour your heart and soul. Ultimate happiness is when a reader finishes it, and doesn't say your heart and soul sucks.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Irnoically I thought I'd written my ultimate book until you guys said you liked the second one better! Now I look at the ultimate book as the next one I write.

Anne Gallagher said...

I'm sorry I couldn't comment like I usually do to each of your comments. My internet user is going bat-sh*t crazy on me today and I've had to reboot every time I do one thing. UGH!

I'm hoping to rectify the situation tomorrow.

And thanks again for all your great comments. It does my heart good to know I'm not the only one who thinks this way.

Donna Hole said...

This is why I have a hard time shelving, once and for all, the women's fiction trilogy. But its the concept that has been faithfully training me to be a better writer, and each time I return to it, I've learned something of value that may possibly make it a marketable concept some day.

Some day.

Most days, I'm just happy people read my blog :)

.......dhole

jbchicoine said...

Wow, Anne, I think you've summed it up so well. For me, just having one other person--especially someone whose opinion I respect--read it and have it stick with them is one of the most powerful boosts I have ever experienced! An audience. An appreciative, objective audience! Nothing quite like it!

...now...off to read someone's Ultimate Novel! :)

Al said...

My ultimate novel is the one when someone 'says that character really touched me'

Glynis said...

My ultimate novel would be the one that shuts up the timid critique partner who lives inside me.

J.L. Campbell said...

Boy, have I had some of those moments. I am now at the point where I'm half-way through another Ultimate Novel, but I've been mighty distracted with other important things - like editing another Ultimate Novel for the publisher. :)

Anne R. Allen said...

Fantastic post!

My Ultimate Novel is always the one I'm just starting--with all that new promise and momentum. Sometimes the promise carries through until I've finished the first draft.

Then I start reading it to the critique group and it starts to lose luster, but I still believe it might be worthy of Ultimate Novel status someday.

Then the rewrites: Draft # 2, 3 and 4, when it totally sucks. Then it magically comes together and it's Ultimate Novel again.

Then the queries. And rejections. And more rejections, ane more and more and more.

Meanwhile, I'm going gangbusters on my new Ultimate Novel.

All the others, I hate. Because agents hate them.

But you know what? This week I took out three of those old ones and read them and polished them up and said: "these are purdy damn good books." Sent them off to a small press.

Tired of having my Ultimate Novels killed off by a machine that is looking for one-size-fits -all, lowest-common-denominator fiction.

My novels have a niche, and I'm going to find it. Because they may all be Ultimate Novels for somebody.

jbchicoine said...

Amen to what Anne Allen just said!

Anne Gallagher said...

AMEN Sistah's! Can I get an allejuhiah!

TIMMYTHEROBOT said...

Really for me it's something that's universally adored. I can't see an ultimate novel being anything but - maybe you can call something that's personal to you your own ultimate novel but I don't see it that way.

Mandy said...

Mine is the one which can make me nervous before I read it, calm while I'm reading it, and ponder after I read it.