Killer Year–The Class of 2007

First Novel-itis
April 3, 2007, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Dave White

I’ve heard of a phenomenon called first novel-itis. Basically what it is is someone gets a book deal and it’s their first. And usually an author is an opinionated person to begin with.

So said opinionated person is now completely excited about their novel coming out. All of a sudden all they’ve done is validated. They were right, they are awesome, they are great, they are going to be bestsellers, they know everything there is to know about writing.

And they are going to tell everybody.

The problem is said person doesn’t know everything. And while get a book deal is awesome, they are not always awesome. And they do NOT know everything about writing.

The problem is I have it. And I’m fighting against it. I’m like Jekyll and Hyde. One day I just want to tell everyone to screw off and I know everything there is to know and the next I’m smart enough to say, you know what? I’m rarely right about things. There are writers who’ve been through this before and know better than I do.

But I want to give in so bad. I’m so excited to have this novel coming out and all this cool stuff that’s going on around me.

And I want to scream it to the heavens.

So I’m paranoid. Have I been too over the top with some of the things I’ve said on my own blog? Or have I kept my cool better than I thought?

I’ve become paranoid. The other day I posted an entry entitled “How I learned to write (an ongoing series)” and thought about the changing the title because I haven’t completely learned to write so I shouldn’t use past tense.

It’s an interesting world this first time novel moment. I should be bursting at the seams. I want to give advice on writing a novel, but I know I’m not the right guy to give it, all the time. In fact, most times, I should still be listening to advice.

I think what’s helping me is what my girlfriend and I call “the Irish Emotional Scale” (she’s Irish, and I have Irish blood)… The typical emotional scale is 1-10, ten being the highest. But most Irish people range only between 3-7. And that’s what I’m trying to do with this book deal, keep myself on the Irish emotional scale.  I am trying real hard not to become an asshole without realizing it.

But, boy, is it tough.


9 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Can I buy a bottle of Irish Emotional Scale? Or should I just buy a truckload of Irish Spring and hope it soaks through the skin???

Comment by JT Ellison

Too Late.

(only kidding, you’re doing fine. I only hope to have to worry about the same thing someday…soon.

Comment by Tom

I will let you know when you become an asshole!!

Comment by Anne

Dave White Rules! (I’ll send you the address for the check.)

I think this is true of anyone who’s finally made it, though, that whole, “Oh, well, this is how it’s done” feeling. That’s why there’s such conflicting advice out there about how to break in. Some people say you absolutely cannot sell your first book or sell it on a synopsis or any number of permutations, but the thing is, strange things happen. It’s not so easy to predict and that means we probably all have a pretty even shot at looking like an ass at least half the time. Welcome to the club! 😉

Comment by toni mcgee causey

“I’ve become paranoid. The other day I posted an entry entitled “How I learned to write (an ongoing series)” and thought about the changing the title because I haven’t completely learned to write so I shouldn’t use past tense.”

Let’s be plain about this. You know how to write. What you want to know is how to write better. Look at Lawrence Block’s old articles, which I think he compiled into TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Block freely admits in his intro he contradicts himself, often from one article to the next.

“How I Learned to Write” is about what you learned in the past. If you want to get technical about it, I wrote that last sentence in the past, though I’d hope you’d give something you learned more time to ferment.

Anyway, Dave, you’re an English teacher. You have more right to talk about the language than most of our ilk. At least you don’t obsess publicly over what color patches you should sew onto your tweed jacket.

Comment by Jim Winter

What color patches should I sew onto my twead jacket, that’s what I want to know.

I have the exact opposite problem. Getting a book deal seemed to shine a light on everything gaping chasm in my knowledge. Before book deal, I was an aspiring writer. After, I was the guy everyone was gonna know was a fraud because there it is for all to see. A book.

The conceit in that thinking is that “everyone” is going to care about my stupid book.

As for you, well, Dave, I like what you have to say. Yeah, you’re cocky at times, but WTF, you seem to know some shit. I support your cockiness under such circumstances. Bring it, baby. Dave White Rules.

Comment by Bill Cameron

A very honest post and a sure sign that you are not an asshole. Congrats on being published no one should mistake cocky or confidence for anything other than what it is…if they do well, tough.

Comment by Steve Clackson

Bless you for worrying about this. The very fact that you are means that you are not a sufferer of the illness you describe. Have faith. And remember there’s a lot of jealousy out there too. You got a book deal, man. That IS a big deal and it means you can write and you did do something right. A lot of aspirant, struggling types like to believe it’s all a random lottery, but it’s not.


Comment by Niki

My problem is that my emotional scale is 7-10 (and I’m Irish.) My husband calls it the Woman’s Emotional Scale, but that’s another subject altogether. We won’t go there.

Comment by patry

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