We all know that hindsight is a perfect science. But more than that the first time you do anything usually comes with a certain level of reservation, self-doubt or a general lack of full expression, particularly when what you’re doing is creatively inclined. I feel since it’s been some five months since I published my self-published book, and a lot longer since I actually completed writing it, it’s a good time to talk about my thoughts about it in retrospect, and what I have in mind going forward with my second novel, The Black Glass Killer. This isn’t a revisit of the topic I already covered regarding the six months rule of progressing in writing, but rather an honest assessment of my first novel months and months after having written and subsequently published it. After all, I like to believe that I am self-critical and set high standards for myself.
Bluntly speaking, I feel now that my first book was an alright attempt. Subconsciously I realise I may have held back a little due to it being my first book, and if I had to do it today I would have done it somewhat differently. I don’t quite believe it captured my identity as a writer as much as I would have liked, although I feel my upcoming novel can really begin that journey. Do I have any regrets about The Sorrow? Perhaps only one. Playing it safe somewhat. I delved into some pretty dark themes, but if I had to grade it on a scale of what I believe I am capable of at this point in time, it would be somewhere along the lines of a four or five out of ten. That’s not a rating of quality (that’s for all of you lovely people to decide) but rather a rating in comparison to the kind of themes and darkness I would like to go into in my upcoming projects. There was one defining moment in The Sorrow at the end of Chapter 14 which probably pushed up that rating.
It’s not that I want to be controversial or cross over lines. It’s that right now, at this point in my writing, I am deeply fascinated by themes of human tragedy, pain, psyche and psychopathy. I am interested in what human beings are capable of, and the innate tendency for violence that resides within all of us. I am also captivated by darkness and human cruelty. Particularly in my next novel, The Black Glass Killer, I am aiming to explore psychopathy and broken, disturbed people essentially. I am, however, interested in many, many things, and as I’ve written before on this blog I will be jumping to many different genres in my future (hopefully) and be exploring a wide range of themes and fascinations. It’s just, you write what you feel passionately about, and at the moment it’s psychology and darkness.
Back to my first book, the reason I have no major regrets about it is because I think of it as the book that proved I could write a book. For nine years (since I was eleven years old), I had the dream of becoming an author. With self-publishing, that is now a fortunate reality and I have a burning desire to keep writing. But all I’ve done is prove I can write a book and put out my first story. I haven’t created my identity as a writer, nor have I accomplished a novel that I feel reflects what I truly want to write about. But that’s the fun part, and the awesome part about The Black Glass Killer for me. I will be leaving the thriller genre for a while after this book, so I am absolutely excited to push my capabilities and do better.
I can’t wait to share all the wonderful ideas I have for stories, and the genres I want to write in, but it’s one book at a time and for now all of my energy and attention is on The Black Glass Killer, which I’ve made substantial progress in during recent weeks. You can read about that in my progress update on this blog. For now though, I feel comfortable reflecting on my first book and being open and honest about it. When people ask me about the book, what I’ve said in this post is what I say to them now. It’s not that I don’t have pride in my work or don’t feel good about it, but I am someone who doesn’t wish to be complacent or believe I am good or that I’ve achieved what I set out to do with each novel. Only my readers will be able to decide that, and the best I can do is seek to improve and tell these stories I have.
With all that said, I would absolutely love it if people did pick up my first book and gave it a read to see my entry point into the world as an author. It’s currently free over at Smashwords during their July sale, and you can grab an ebook copy by simply clicking here. I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I’m always around on Facebook, Twitter and here on this blog. I hope this piece served as interesting insight into what it’s like to move on from a project and re-evaluate it with honesty, despite how difficult it may be to criticise your own work objectively, especially when you poured so many hours into it. But I believe that that is the essence of self-improvement.