I was just reading last year's nanowrimo novel draft, because though I've been plugging ahead with this year's, I have become incredibly self-doubt-y about its merit, and have been stressing about whether or not I can write a goddamn thing worth reading. So I figured I'd look at this manuscript I haven't seen in a year --something I've already given up for dead, so it can't disappoint me; something I've almost completely forgotten, so I can be more objective about it -- and if it sucks, then this one probably sucks too and I should just quit.
Fortunately, I'm pleasantly surprised at how much I like it, despite its many obvious flaws, like the way it panders. I can't explain very well what I mean by "panders;" I guess I didn't realize when I was writing it how hard I was pushing for it to be an "uplifting" read that was also service-y, in that there's all this Oprah-esque self-helpism about writing and connecting and choosing your path and shit, stuff I must have thought people could profitably employ in their own lives! (Cue the audience of women pressing hardbacks into their bosoms with tears in their eyes). Also, the title included the word "Club," and there's really only one reason to put the word "Club" in your title and that's so that everybody in the fucking world will buy it.
Here is something else: It has three main characters through whose POV we get to see. There's a 42 year old woman, a 28 year old woman, and a 32 year old guy. And the guy is SUCH A DICK. I was basing him on myself, of course, but also on one of my exes (all the scenes set in his apartment are set in my head at the real life apartment in Brooklyn, which I know from the inside out), and while I was wholly sympathetic to him as I was writing him, totally rooting for him even though he is a selfish, critical, capricious, spoiled asshole, as am I, reading him now I am floored by how much of a monumental prick he is.
So now I have to consider the very frightening probability that I am prejudiced against straight men.* Because the minute I adopted a straight male persona, I felt freer than usual to say horrible, horrible things that I've thought, and to indulge all the worst aspects of my personality. Not that my female characters did great things -- one of them cheated on her long-time boyfriend with the asshole guy (who dumped her as soon as she dumped her boyfriend, WHAT AN ASSHOLE), and the other...well, she was pretty awesome. Actually, so is he. I reread Portnoy's Complaint when I started writing this guy, remembering how amazing I thought it was when I first read it at a totally inappropriate age (twelve, maybe?). And it's obnoxious, to the max, but I swear I know Portnoy, I know so much and so many of him, and sometimes I've even a little bit loved them.
So I may post more about that project, or not, but I think what I really need to do is get back to work on the current one. I'm so afraid I won't like it when I look at it again, that fear rises in me every single day. I thought that evaluating this other manuscript would tell me something that would ease my fear, but all it's telling me is to keep going, fear and all.
( *Hahahahahahahahaha! You think?)