There is no achievement so imbued with pride than publishing your first novel. Invested with high hopes and what feels like your entire being into this monumental project. Even if it turns out to be a failure, rejected and unappreciated, it will always hold that special place in your heart. Yes, a lot of emotion tied up with that debut work. So it has not been easy to confront the admittedly very considerable failings of The Hidden Realm.
Twelve years from first published I finally removed it. Well, mostly; it ended up on numerous sites since I made it free. Possibly exceeded 10k downloads. Clearly some readers liked it, but unfortunately those who didn’t made it known. This was in the days when competition on virtual space was nowhere near as fierce, so getting attention was far easier. But that kind of attention carries risk. And my request to delete all reference to it on Goodreads was rejected.
Here’s the dilemma. Should I do an extensive re-edit/rewrite of THR? Or just carry on with my fifth novel (second, third draft etc)? It’s a question perhaps only I can answer. A cursory re-read of my debut I soon got a sense of its failings: too many character POVs with all their narratives; clunky dialogue – which has been my weakness for many years. In the end I did my best to tie everything up to what felt like a neat resolution. Written in the noughties, maybe it seems dated in more ways than just the science&tech.
The most common problem with that first novel is, bursting with ideas, you want to throw everything in, without the patience to think: I can leave that character’s story for the next volume. So the next (Time Over) was like a reset in the series.
Anyway, I hope not to simply disregard THR without some attempt to salvage it. Because, surely, you can never forget your first.