I think if my list of revisions to the novel (post-appraisal) had been massively long, I’d bizarrely be less concerned. But it’s not. It’s incredibly short and that frightens me.
So I’ve done the sensible thing and not just dive in. Instead I’ve spent the last few days thinking about the changes I need to make. For instance, I know what to do to a secondary character to make him really stand out, and I know that I need to put more obscure mythological races into some scenes.
I’ve even gone through, for each of the points, and marked the chapter numbers I’ll need to amend. Some chapters will need a line, others a paragraph here or there, but none of them anything ‘major’. Even so, the list is ridiculously short and the fact that if I pulled my finger out I could be seriously looking for agents to submit to in the next couple of days… well, it scares the hell out of me!
So the professional appraisal came back.
I read it then sent it to one of my alpha readers to take a look at and tell me as a neutral party what it was really saying. Because I was readying myself for this. I was ready to be told how terrible I was so I could go away, beat myself up and become a better writer. After all it was a professional appraisal and however much they buttered the language I’d be able to read between the lines and see how truly bad I was.
I can be very negative like this, but this is the thing that drives me – the fear that I’m terrible and need to do better. At least with a professional appraisal I’d get to know what was genuine weakness and what was just me beating myself up over nothing.
Except the appraisal wasn’t negative. It wasn’t even “I’m putting this fairly but very nicely” negative.
As my alpha reader told me… it was a really good appraisal. Not only fair, but good in the sense that they liked it.
“But as a whole, I think this is a very entertaining, fun read. I think the pace of the narrative is good – quite fast – and there were a couple of places towards the end where I did not hear questions addressed to me, because I was too busy reading. This is obviously a good sign!”
Of course there were some issues and concerns, but much less than I feared. There are a couple of secondary characters that need some work to raise them to the standard of the rest of the cast. It also looks like that in trying to cut out all the infodumping I may have gone too far in places and need to reintroduce some of the worldbuilding I’d edited out. There was a slight issue with the end of one of the character arcs (to which there is a really easy fix). There’s also some grammatical failings and typos (despite me going over the manuscript carefully).
So all in all, there’s shockingly little I need to do.
This is scary. Very scary. Cos I don’t wear praise well.
Of course, I’m over the moon about this. Professional validation means a lot. Even if I am unable to place the novel, I know I am capable of writing one. I’d say there’s still a lot of work to do, except there isn’t and the thought that in a few weeks I could be looking for agents makes things frighteningly real.
So for the last month or so I’ve been in a kind of limbo. The novel was completed and sent out for professional appraisal. It was a huge milestone to have finally reached that stage and for the first few weeks there was relief mixed with a feeling of emptiness.
But then I started to think, what would the appraisal say? Would it say that I’d written a publishable novel or that I just wasn’t there yet? Because of a lot of other things going on, I thought the best thing to do was just to dream. It’s funny because people who’ve never read any of my stuff look at me like I’m crazy when I say I want to write books. Yes, it’s an incredibly hard market, but it’s not like I haven’t made inroads.
But still there’s always the worry that perhaps I’m fooling myself. Perhaps I can’t write, perhaps my characters are wooden. It took Adam Christopher at Eastercon to remind me I’d placed a story in a recognised publication for a highly respected editor… so it’s not like I was without any talent.
Despite all my worry, there is a shred of confidence. I’ve started on Book 2, because whilst I know book 1 will need some work, I don’t believe that it is unsalvageable. Perhaps that’s just arrogance.
Less than 30 minutes ago to be precise, my professional appraisal has arrived. Opinion from a real, respected, award-winning author. It feels like a major milestone. Such a major milestone that I need to compose myself before I read it; that I need to write a blogpost capturing my dreams and fears before everything changes. This is where I find out whether I’m any good or not. Dreams could die here (yes, it’s all very melodramatic but I am a writer).
Oh crap. Please let it be good news
I’ve finally got round to doing a number of site updates. I’ve changed webhosts and the blog has moved from using Drupal to WordPress. This means it looks a little different, but all the old content has been migrated.
You most likely don’t need to know this, but I need to give some of the additional features a test 😉