Now, I'm by no means in the same realm of John Grisham (Ha! The man has published 37 novels since 1989 -- it took me a lot of time to count them all on Wikipedia!), but I do have a tangentially related story of the first book I ever wrote, versus the first book I ever published. I actually had to look back at my author bio to double check that I wrote my first book in 2008 -- I could hardly believe it was so long ago.
I wrote the first draft of that first book in (roughly) 60 days -- nearly 500 pages in all. Two months spent writing from around 10 p.m. until 2 a.m. during the summer of '08. I'll post my playlist from that summer eventually. I had so much fun listening to music and writing long into the summer nights! After that, though, I spent (too long) submitting to literary agents and getting rejections (or no response at all -- that was very common). Then, after a well-intentioned but crushing comment from someone close to me, I packed up the book ... after I had written the sequel and gotten part of the way through a third book. The whole thing was kind of heartbreaking. The writing of the book was thrilling -- the aftermath, not so much.
I don't remember the writing of For Ever in quite the same nostalgic way. It was less carefree. I was more guarded, and I worried about how it would be received. But I finished it and went through the editing process again. After the frustration of submitting a manuscript to agents and subsequently hearing of miraculous early self-publishing success stories (Darcie Chan's The Mill River Recluse and Amanda Hocking's My Blood Approves series, as two high-profile examples), I decided to take a stab at self-publishing. That was in late 2011. By February 12, 2012, I pressed "Publish" on Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing site. I remember the thrill and shock of waking up the next day to discover people had bought the book. Self-publishing has become more challenging in the five and a half years since, but that's another story altogether.
It wasn't until much later that I went back to that first book, and I've lost count of the number of times I rewrote it. It became the project that I tinkered with when I hit a stumbling block with my other books. It was like meditation. The main character's name changed, the nature of characters changed, the plot got rewritten, the ending changed. At long last, it became The Darkly Dreaming Series. Overall, I think it was just nice -- finally -- to put out the first book I ever finished.
On that note, I still have a quirky detective/mystery novel that predates all of this, but it's languishing on my hard drive somewhere. Maybe someday I'll get around to finishing it, and it will be the first novel I ever started ;-)
Overall, each project I've worked on has been a stepping stone of sorts, bringing me to the next stage ... or page. It's been a wild ride, and as Unremarkable goes through its Kindle Scout campaign, I've embarked on yet another (nerve-racking) experiment. Whether I get a publishing contract from Kindle Scout or not, it's been interesting!
And now, back to writing! Oh, and here's a throwback from my summer of '08 playlist ...