When I finished my first novel-length manuscript, I felt like I'd created something singular and phenomenal. (My bookshelves advised otherwise, but I was juiced and a little amazed at my accomplishment, so I didn't listen.) It was an urban fantasy with a reluctant heroine and a beta male as the leads. It was poorly paced, occasionally risky, and decidedly unlovely. Also, I believe I mentioned Funyuns. It was not what the market was looking for in late 2009. A couple of scenes will likely reincarnate in other works, but I doubt I'll ever try to resurrect the thing. I still love it, but for what it was (my beloved first), not for what it has the potential to be.
When I stopped three-quarters of the way through my second novel-length manuscript (75,000 words in) because the story wasn't coming together, I felt okay. I told myself I'd circle back to it when I figured out what was wrong. What was wrong was that I was stringing words together and forming, instead of a novel, a really long piece of crap riddled with clichés. I'd tried to fit it closer to the accepted (and well-selling) tropes of paranormal romance, and failed miserably. Or maybe I was succeeding. Anyway, I didn't like it.
My third manuscript landed me an agent. I tried to execute a certain style, found it really couldn't be sustained for the length required of a contemporary novel, re-envisioned it, and came out with something unexpected. The story still makes me laugh out loud on the eleventy-billionth reading, and my heart actually beats faster through a couple of chapters. In previous incarnations it was more disturbing, more philosophical, sexier, and flatter than champagne left out in the rain. My agent believes she can sell it, and I believe in her ability to.
I love these characters, in this world. I want to write them through adventures and losses, surprises and betrayals, and that one failure that I'm pretty sure will earn me a slap from an angry reader one day.
But more than that, I'm writing now so that I can one day be the writer capable of doing justice to those worlds that are too bold and too tragic for me to fully realize now. I want to grow and innovate, to become capable of nuance and wordplay that I haven't yet mastered. It was only a few years ago, after all, that I wasn't even able to finish a novel.