3 Things about First Tries (and a murder mystery novel by yours truly…)

After 27 years of halfway-baked novels, musicals, and albums, I finally did it.

I finished something.

Nothing New Under the Sun started as a game, as many a hare-brained scheme of mine tends to do. The Philosopher and I were on holiday in Wales and bored during long travels down skinny, windy roads we were meant to be taking at 60 mph (Americans in the UK – you know what I’m talking about!). Naturally, the first thing I suggested to keep our minds off our queasy stomachs was this:

“Let’s write a murder mystery novel!”

An hour later, we rolled out of the car and into our holiday cottage, giggling (or, for my manly Philosopher-husband, heartily booming) about Martin Cheswick, James Oliver, and the deceptively sleepy village of Thislington we’d concocted on the road.

Determined to finish what we started, two years later I typed the last word of our little game and immediately felt sheepish and chuffed at the same time.

But a first novel is a first novel, and shouldn’t be expected to be much more than the three things most firsts are: experimental, inexpert, and incredibly embarrassing to think about the moment you’ve finished.

My writing professor at university told us not to try to go back and fix our first attempts, but rather to press on ahead to new things. The second try, he promised us, will always be better.So I’m humiliating myself by posting this online in order to bring closure to my first attempt, which, I’m hoping, will help me more seriously pursue the second.

So, friends, read on if and only if:

a) you are generous with your laughter — whether at me or with me; the game (for that is what this was and is) will have achieved its aim if it makes you temporarily forget your queasy stomach or other life troubles.

b) you promise to stop reading as soon as you are bored, and only muscle through the boring bits if you run out of TV episodes to watch.

c) you remember the three things first tries always are, and realize that not included in that list is any pretension of the result being good, or being “art”, or being anything, really, other than an honest first try.

Click for Chapter 1

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