I used to get excited when people would ask me ‘how’s the book going?’
‘Good,’ I’d say. ‘I’m near the end of this draft!’ I’d reply.
‘When’s it out? Where can I buy it?’
‘God knows, I still have edits etc. to go through, and then somebody has to like it and want to publish it.’
And then I get the sympathetic head tilt.
‘Oh, so you’re writing it, and you have no idea if you’re going to be published? That’s a bit risky isn’t it? Can’t you just tell them your idea then write it when you get a deal?’
‘No, so keep your fingers crossed.’ I’ll smile, my bubble deflating. Automatically my brain whirs and I start with the ‘what if nobody wants it?’ and ‘what if it’s actually shit?’ wittling.
I’m not the only one of course. I’m sure most, if not every, author starting out feels like this, and if they don’t they discover it along the way. Writing a book, especially when you’re trying desperately to transition into the more traditional side of things, isn’t just 80 thousand words of wonderfulness and a quick upload to Amazon and overnight success, getting it turned into a film and becoming a millionaire. Sadly for my ‘house in spain’ plans, it’s a lot slower going.
This is – I think – the fifth time I’ve written THE END for this story.
It was an idea I’d binned six years ago, but brought up with my agent. With her encouragement I wrote the first draft. One character for the first half, another for the second. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Except of course, it wasn’t, after some discussion we decided to alternate.
So I did massive restructure. Then some revisions, and and then more. Finally we sent it out for submission, and I started a new story I’d been gagging to write. Then we got some feedback, sadly it wasn’t the six-figure deal including a Netflix series and Claire Danes playing my lead, but it was something I could grab onto and think about. It will help me move my career forward, which I found rather exciting.
Plus, nobody came back with a “HAHAHHAHAHAHA WHAT A BIG PILE OF POO!” like I was dreading, which was, you know, nice.
So, I decided to give it a go, start a fifth draft, which turned out to be a total re-write, and today I wrote THE END for that rewrite, and the feeling of excited exhilaration that I used to feel has been replaced with pleasant relief.
I celebrated with a coffee and a malteser reindeer I’d been hiding on my desk for this moment, and now I’m continuing to celebrate by going all the way back to the beginning, and tweaking all over again.
So, even though The End is still a celebration in itself, it isn’t the actual end, it’s just one step closer.