I’m in the middle of the first round of self-edits for my fourth novel and, despite people telling me it gets easier, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Sure, the process has changed in the way that I write (I did the first draft in a month instead of the usual three (ish) and I’m happy with that, but I still hold the same doubts and worries and wondering if I can do it again.
My two previous books have been pretty successful and so there’s a pressure on to better, or at least equal, them, and I struggle with that niggling away at the back of my brain. Constantly. I don’t want to let down those readers who are looking forward to the next in the series and have become invested in Paterson & Clocks as people.
Last night, as I sat glued to the screen, cutting bits out there, tightening sentences here, it suddenly dawned on me that I was probably overthinking things. When I started my first book, I wrote it for myself. It was the kind of book I wanted to read. I wanted my characters to reflect real life, to show real policemen under pressure, they swear, they dig each other out, they make inappropriate quips, they fight amongst themselves, they bitch, all the things that the more mainstream authors tend to omit, and villains who do some truly awful things.
Whether that will harm me in the long term remains to be seen but I decided that that was what I was going to keep on doing-write the kind of book I wanted to read. It’s all I know how to do.
And whilst I was procrastinating instead of writing (let’s call it research-it makes me feel better) I came across an article about the author of ‘The Danish Girl’ and his struggles to write.
The struggle continues…
Late last month I set myself the task of writing the first draft of my fourth book to feature Paterson & Clocks in a month. Yep. 31 days. And, I did it. Let me tell you a bit about it.
Normally when I write a book it takes roughly three months for the first draft to be done. Once I’ve completed it, I will usually take a break for a week and then pick it up again. From there, I will tweak it about, re-structure it, alter, add or delete words, sentences and even paragraphs (I have been known to throw out a whole chapter) in the pursuit of a better, stronger, story. This second phase can take up to three months and so, from start to finish, a book normally takes me six months. By then, I’m sick of the sight of it. Literally.
Somehow, and I have no idea how, I got it into my head that I was being lazy. If I wrote 1500 words a day, I considered that a bloody good day’s work. Really? I’m retired and I retired early so I could write. I can do better than that.
I needed to rethink my working day and so I set myself the task of writing 3000 words a day for 31 days. I didn’t always succeed and I did sneak a few ‘rest’ days in there (I buggered off to Croatia for a week), but I did end up with a 75,000-word story. It’s bare bones though and having read through some it, I’ve cringed more than once. But, it is a draft and I have to keep reminding myself that a draft is a long way from the finished product. What I have now will morph into something that is, at its heart, the same story, but will feel a whole lot different when I’m done.
And, in keeping with my new ‘can-do’ attitude, I’m going to get it edited and ready for submission in two months. Yep. By Christmas this year, book 4 will be submitted for editing and will hopefully be out in January 2019.
We shall see (I’m also editing book #3 don’t forget)
So, the book came back from the editor (Anne) and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised. Very pleased with myself. Okay, she cut about 7,000 words which a huge amount but when I read the revised manuscript, I never really noticed they were gone. The mark of a good editor and a lesson for an overwriter.
It’s interesting because when the MS came back, it came back in full markup mode and I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the number of changes – deletions mostly but, still… Not good for the blood pressure when you see it for the first time. What did shock me though was the number of corrections made to things like commas, quote marks etc. I thought I had a pretty good eye and had caught most of them. Nope. Anne caught a helluva lot more. I wonder if it’s because we get so familiar with the document over such a long period of time that become word-blind – don’t see the mistakes that are right there in front of us. A good reason to get it checked by others before it goes anywhere.
The report was good, full of positives, but I will be asking a few questions for clarification only. Overall, I’m extremely happy with how it turned out and I honestly think it’s a better book for it.
Joffe moves fast! Listen to this. I submitted my MS and after four days, Jasper Joffe the owner sent me an email. We spoke on the phone and after some correspondence between us and a couple of calls, I signed. The whole thing was done and dusted within a fortnight. Compare that to traditional publishing…
The manuscript for my first book is currently being edited and I should have it back within a week or two. It’s nerve wracking knowing that an unknown individual (Anne, is her name) is poring over my book and whilst I’m a little uneasy, I’m also very excited. I think I’m a good writer but not brilliant. The thing is, wherever I am on the writing scale, I just want to be better and I know that my editor is working away to make that so. For that, I’m grateful.
My second book is finished- has been for some time and I did pay to have that edited. Good move? Not sure, but what I’m looking forward to is seeing what Anne makes of the book when she eventually gets it and how it compares to the previous editor’s report.
Book three is underway and I have finished the first draft in the last couple of days. I’m currently self-editing the double-spaced white bastard of a manuscript which I both love and hate in equal measure. One minute I look at it and think ‘Yeah, that’s the stuff’ and the next ‘Yeah, that’s total shit!’ I guess that’s what we writers do.
My plan is to get it into decent shape by the 1st of June and, if the timing works out, start the fourth book in July with a completion date of 1st January 2019. That should give me the chance to make the edits in the first three books whilst drafting the fourth. Lots to do.