My book is finished. When I say finished, of course, I mean it’s finished for now. As I was gently reminded on Facebook yesterday, a book is never finished but merely abandoned. It has to be or it will go on being tweaked forever, I suppose.
I spent yesterday filling in those final few details, writing the one short scene I hadn’t yet attempted and going over it all again and again. At some point this week, when I get a full day to myself, I will sit down and read through the whole thing one more time, then print it off and send it to the Romantic Novelists’ Association, to be critiqued as part of their New Writers’ Scheme.
When it comes back I will (hopefully) have some constructive criticism, which will enable me to improve upon it further so that I can resubmit it next year and then, fingers crossed, eventually send it off into the big bad world to see if anyone is interested in publishing it.
Writing a novel is bloody hard work. I mean, really. I started this adventure on 1st of November 2011 as part of my first ever NaNoWriMo and by December I had a first draft of 120,000 words. Brilliant, I thought. That was exhausting but fun. Now for the easy bit.
Wrong! It has taken me around 20 months to do that “easy bit” and it has been an energy-sapping ride. There have been times when I cried with frustration, when my mind just wouldn’t switch off and I couldn’t sleep, when I have gone into work feeling like a zombie, my mind totally preoccupied with a fictional world and characters that just weren’t doing what I thought they should be doing!
And there have been many times when I woke early in the morning, full of excitement as I hurried downstairs to switch on my laptop and return to my imaginary world where all my new friends were waiting for me. They became very real. I can see them all in my mind and I love them…even the selfish ones!
Sometimes it seemed it would never be done and I would feel impatient, ideas for the second book in the series flowing, its characters pushing their way in and demanding my attention, but I would just make quick notes and push them away. Their time is coming.
Never in all that time did I seriously consider giving up. I did sometimes wonder what I did with all my spare time before I resumed writing after such a long, long break. I know I got more reading done but even so. It seems to have taken every free moment I have had. Not just the actual writing, but the thinking about writing, the planning, the plotting, the research, the reading of “how to” books on writing, making notes, daydreaming…very important and under-rated activity that!
It turns out it’s not the book I thought I was writing at all, and bears very little resemblance to the original draft. The seeds were there, but it has grown into something I hadn’t forseen. I thought I had it all planned, but it appears that I knew nothing. My characters had other ideas and hey, it’s their story. Who am I to tell them what to do? 😉
And now it’s done. I’ve taken it as far as I can on my own. I need a professional opinion and fresh eyes to read it through and tell me what to do with it next. It’s scary as no one else has ever read it. Not even family. So, it will soon be packaged up and winging its way to a reader and I will get on with my life.
So what have I learned from this whole experience?
- As previously stated, in case you haven’t got the idea, writing a novel is HARD WORK
- Even the best planned and plotted novels may veer off course and it’s not the end of the world
- Have your ending in sight right from the first day or you may lose your way completely. It’s okay to take a detour but don’t miss the finishing post all together
- You can never know everything about writing. There is always something new to learn
- Nothing that you write is wasted. Even the stuff that is only fit for the recycling bin has helped you gain experience, and there may be some hidden gems in there that will come in useful for other novels
- Television, game playing, visiting family, entertaining, or any kind of social life may become a distant memory
- The writing community is, by and large, an extremely friendly place to hang out, with most authors being incredibly friendly and supportive and more than willing to advise
- Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest etc are lethal!! However, avoiding them completely is almost impossible so try to limit them
- It’s all worth it! I’ve never had so much fun in my life. (With apologies to DH)
September is going to be a very busy month. I have a holiday in (hopefully) sunny Cornwall to look forward to; my daughter is getting married; I have my driving test to deal with and I am moving house – again. Yes, me and DH are taking the plunge once more and giving it another go. I am moving into his home while we look for something bigger and so, as you can see, I have a lot on. I will probably not write at all that month and concentrate on real life for a few weeks.
Then again…the urge to pick up a notebook and pen is always there, and they do sell some very pretty notebooks in Cornwall, and really, writing may soothe my nerves and take my mind off my driving test. It’s part of me now. It’s who I am. And I love it!
Have a great week xx