If a negative is pale and hard to see, then it means that not enough light reached the film. Basically, the pictures were grossly underexposed.
Unfortunately, with film you don't get any feedback until the whole roll is developed. There may possibly be something mechanically wrong with the camera, the auto-exposure system of your camera, or most likely, bad settings.
You didn't say what kind of camera and what capabilities the Canon AL-1 has (brief descriptions are useful, most people don't know most camera), so its hard to be specific. With no film in the camera, open the back, point the camera at something bright like the sky, and check that you can see a flash of light thru the back when it takes a picture. That tells you the basic stuff is working, like the mirror not stuck in down position, shutter operating, etc.
Otherwise, do a sanity check on the exposure system and expose a few frames manually. Even if you're off by a couple of f-stops either way, you will still get some recognizable result. Blank negatives means the picture was grossly underexposed, not just by a couple of stops.
The basic rule of thumb is that for a normal sunlit scene, set the shutter speed to 1/ISO, and the aperture to f/16. Since you are using ISO 400 film, that means 1/400 second exposure at f/16. That would be the same, for example, as 1/200 second and f/22. Bright sand or snow will require less exposure, dark objects more, but this is a good starting point that will definitely cause quite recognizable pictures.
After taking a few pictures manually in full sunlight conditions, switch to automatic and see what the camera tries to do. If it's within a stop or two and changes with the brightness of the object you are pointing the camera at, then the auto exposure system is probably working. If not, then there is your problem. Even if it shows you the right settings, take a few pictures to make sure it actually uses those settings.
Record the details of each picture carefully, so that when you get the developed roll back you can hopefully narrow down what is wrong if you still have a problem. Don't bother getting scans or prints, just have the negatives developed. For testing the camera, you can look at those directly. That will be much cheaper.