Sssshhhh, come here, keep your voice down…. I shouldn’t be here… I mean where I am is okay, I’m atop my fit ball, before my laptop, pen in hand. (Red, Edits, natch). The thing is, I should be in the other word file… the one over there… no, don’t look, Don’t look. It’s…. TERRIFYING.
I know, I know what you’re thinking, I’m a confident, independent woman of confident, independent means (Not that my tax return backs this up). I give the aura of on it, in charge, focussed. So I’m told. And I am, I am except when I’m not. Like now. Because, *pulls you in closer…pushes you slightly back as haven’t yet brushed teeth… writers prerogative* I am TERRIFIED. TERRIFIED YE GADS.
Why, you ask. (Humour me, god dammit!) I am four chapters away from the end on my latest MS following a report from an edit agency which was brilliant. They got it. The editor, she understood my characters, my intention, my objective for the novel. She understood it before I totally did and then she helped me to see that the thing I’d been wrestling with was almost, very nearly there. That with a few tweaks it could be done and I could be proud and it could be… good.
And that is what’s so frightening. I hated book 1, but I knew it had to be done. I did three drafts, got lots of rejections, shelved it. It was what needed to be done to get to book 2. Book 2 was a love affair, I loved the characters. I even loved some of the writing and was so buoyed by the attention it got, despite its flaws… of which, like it’s writer, there were many, I felt like it turned me round a corner. But ultimately, I wasn’t proud of it. I loved it, but I wasn’t proud. I wasn’t sure it was the one I wanted to be read for the first time by someone who didn’t know me. Or even someone who did but was likely to judge. I wasn’t sure it was anything I would actually want to put my name to. Despite 13 drafts, it wasn’t as good as I felt I could be. With time.
And that takes us to book 3. What can I tell you about book 3? It has, as I think I’ve mentioned before, been the hardest thing I have ever done. And that includes the 36 hour labour for which I subsequently spent 3 hours in surgery from. (If you think that’s TMI, don’t ask me about it in the playground.) It’s harder than the time I played Helga in a production of Allo’ Allo’ and had to strip down to red basque, stockings and suspenders whilst my Herr Flick played violin in front of an audience of bemused, am-dram theatre goers. (shiver) It’s harder than watching an episode of Bake Off and resisting temptation within the kitchen cupboards for an entire, hour-long episode. Come on, we all know that one’s impossible.
And yet, it has also been the most rewarding. I haven’t let anyone read this yet… well, apart from the one person started it and couldn’t finish it… but that didn’t deter me. If anything, I took comfort from it. Long story. I haven’t submitted it anywhere, no competitions, no agents, no publishers. It is really a well-guarded secret between me and the editor who critiqued it, and even she hasn’t seen the latest version. And the crucial point is: I’m proud. I’m proud of every last corner of it. It’s not flawless, obviously. You’ve all seen my inability to correctly; apply a semi-colon. (!) It will still need another draft to tighten up grammar, spellings and possibly one last chapter that I totally re-wrote but other than that, it’s not far off being ready to go out. There are three agents wanting to see it. There are others I want to send it to. It is something that I completely and wholly believe in. And THAT is what’s so terrifying.
Because what happens if nobody picks it up. The agents, the publishers… readers. What happens if it fails to make the grade. Again. Book 3. Year 3. My 5 year target is rapidly running out.
Well, I don’t know, is the short answer. I don’t know I might have to think about self-publishing just because I couldn’t bear to have written something I feel proud of that nobody will ever read, is the long answer. Not the one I want to give you, but something I’d have to think about all the same. I guess, only time will tell.
By the way. This and the previous paragraph were written after I’d put the post away and turned my attention to the book. Because I had to off load the fear before I got back to the writing. And now? Well, I’m wrung out. I’m ready for a gin. I’m cotton-picking knackered, but by golly I am proud. And actually, the rest of it ultimately is out of my control. I can only do the best I can do. In this time. And I really feel, that that is what I’ve done.