I recently finished editing the manuscript of my first novel, which I started writing about 10 years ago. At this moment in time, my greatest feeling is that of relief. Yes, the MS needs to be given to my favourite editor (aka my wonderful husband) for feedback and, no doubt, it will need further editing if I want to get it ‘out there’ (whatever ‘out there’ is right for me at that time). Or perhaps it will be relegated to a drawer. I don’t know. But at the moment I am simply savouring a wonderful feeling of closure.
I’m really glad I stuck with my book. Whatever happens to it, I do feel a sense of pride for staying the course and going through a kind of ‘writing apprenticeship’ with it.
The last edit I did wasn’t too onerous in the end, though at the start I was loath to do it because the book had various continuity/timing issues and I found it difficult to envisage the novel as a whole when working on a computer. I find it much easier to see timing errors when the novel is a physical, tangible thing, in real, actual paper. But I also couldn’t face/justify printing out another 200 pages. Anyway, in the end, minimizing the size of the pages in Word (and so having more of the novel in front of me) helped me to ‘see’ the issues and get them sorted.
My last edit was no doubt a little complicated by me doing it while reading two fantastic books — Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton. I knew from experience that after reading such beautifully-written books, editing my own would be a rather disheartening experience. Thankfully, though, I’m much more philosophical about this now, compared to when I was younger. (I grew up on the classics of Dostoevsky, Forster, Bronte, Austen etc. and it seemed futile then to even bother writing my own book when there were so many books by those great authors to savour again and again).
But… being older and wiser now (I hope!) I have realized that we do all have our own stories to tell and each writer’s book is as valid as the next. Rather like painting though, it is the level of skill and the strength of the mysterious invisible connection (or engagement) between the painting/book and its beholder/reader that will ultimately take the book to a whole other level of popularity/success/longevity.
Another bonus of finishing the editing is that I feel the time is right to shift my focus onto my YA fantasy book (I wrote about 8000 words of that a while ago and then it came to a standstill as I became busy with work, wrote some short stories and poetry, and spent some time on reworking the first novel). Anyway, I’m looking forward to re-entering that world, when I get the chance.
I know that my husband is sometimes frustrated by the eclectic nature of my work. Both of us are well aware that concentrating solely on one genre and/or age range has many advantages but, again, I’m philosophical about this. All the writing that I do — from copywriting, blogging, writing for children, writing poetry, writing short stories etc. — is useful, and helps to inform and improve my writing skills (although it inevitably means that progress in any one area seems slow). I know that my art has benefitted hugely from working on one subject but in different media.
Anyway, I’m glad I’ve had a chance to document where I am right now on my writing journey; no doubt years later I will look back on this, and think What?! You thought your apprenticeship was done after 10 years and one book? You have to be joking! Ah, the folly of youth….