Once upon a time, before I Blogged, and even before the website was re-created (all give thanks to the Internet Wayback Machine), shortly after I retired from (well-)paid employment, I wrote a novel. A fantasy novel. A quest fantasy novel with elves, orcs, dwarves, mages, gods, centaurs, pixies, etc. I had borrowed a copy of _The Tough Guide to Fantasyland_ from one of the people I then gamed with (a published novelist, daughter of another published novelist, as it happens). I used it as a Bible for writing my quest fantasy, with two guiding principles. First, reproduce as many cliches as possible, but in a way that distorted those cliches to make some point (e.g. the party of adventurers that displayed a zillion dumb cliches died horribly quickly). Second, violate as many cliches as possible, in the interest of better world building (e.g. describe industry whenever possible). I wrote this novel extremely quickly. I wrote it as a first person chronicle, with inserted bits from other characters (this was far faster than any other POV for me to write, and kept the descriptive detail under control; also dialogue could legitimately be told and not shown). There was no particular plot ahead of time -- I treated it as a D&D game, where every day I had to come up with something for the characters to do. On several occasions, I got stuck, and a good friend of mine was willing to discuss how to deal with each of those situations. One of the three main characters (J.) was based on this friend. Another (L.) was based on my soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend. Several side characters (notable D. and S.) were based on another friend.
I then passed this -insert appropriate noun here- around to a bunch of my friends, including the one who had been helping all along, the soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend, the other friend. My gaming group (who collectively appeared _twice_ in the novel, as two separate parties of adventurers encountered on the road, from two different games). Etc. They made a variety of suggestions (typos, continuity issues, etc.). I incorporated them, then put it away for a year. I got it out a year later and thought that (a) it was much worse than I remembered and (b) it exposed waaaaaay too much of my psyche. So I put it away.
Fast forward 7 or so years. I mention to someone else on the Board that I had written a novel upon retiring (they mentioned they might do that). That person asked if I would let them read that book. I said I'd have to dig it out. So I did. I haven't loaned it out. I'm busy rereading it (almost done). It's substantially better (question my judgment! I do!) than I remembered, and I think I've changed a lot more in those 7 years than I realized. And I've got a whole series of ideas for a sequel, some of which will cause continuity problems, but I think I can explain everything (ah, the joys of a known-unreliable narrator!). It took me a while to solve the paternity/resurrected god problem, but I think I can get the guy who was the basis for D. and S. to explain what kind of planar travel would fast forward someone to the future a good long ways in the D&D system, which is more or less what I'm working with here. Okay, AD&D for the picky. My player's handbook has long since been sold back to a used bookstore, so I'm not sure.
I bet anything that by the time I've gone through the process on this thing, I'll think it sucks, hide it, get it out, decide it shows way too much of my psyche, hide it again, and then, ten years hence go, hey, this is pretty good!
What prompted this? Reading _Resenting the Hero_. A lot of the themes of perception/reputation in a non-angsty context struck me as exactly the MASSIVE genre violation that caused me to believe my book absolutely unpublishable. That may have changed. Hmmmm.
ETA: I have no idea why this post has attracted so many spam comments (which no one else has seen because screen anonymous comments) but I'm blocking comments on this post to prevent further spammage.