I’ve been fairly quiet about work on the novel recently, so much so that a few people have asked if I’ve stopped work on it. In answer, no it hasn’t and the editing work still continues. However, a few things have gone on that have made me sit back and take stock of where I am and what I’m trying to do.
The editing process has been dragging on for months now and I cannot begin to tell you the ridiculous number of hours I’ve put into it. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with the basics of what has been written. Characters, plot and pacing seem to be as I want them. Of course, there are spelling and grammatical mistakes, sentences that need to flow better, and the odd chapter that needs rewriting to punch it up a little. It’s been slow work, but in general I’ve been happy.
No, that’s a slight lie. Since Xmas there has been growing unease, not with the work but the time it was taking to edit it. The lack of a deadline meant I was taking my time and really working on it. And that meant that some evenings I’d just sit at my desk, staring at a sentence or passage willing it to reveal what was wrong with it to me. It wasn’t productive.
On top of that I had other worries. I want to do this and I want to do it well. I want to be a joy to edit, I want to turn manuscripts in on time, I want the business end of things to be as professional as possible. Yet there was part of me that got more and more dismayed the time the editing was taking. I’d said to myself last year that I needed to turn around a novel (writing and edits) in 6 months. This book has now taken years.
And so I found myself starting to worry about book 2. What if I got a contract and needed to deliver the book inside a year? Could I do that? Really? I mean top-notch writers like Patrick Rothfuss and Scott Lynch are popular enough that their publishers don’t mind them taking years on a book. But someone like me? Pfff, even my considerable ego doesn’t put me in their league.
And then there was what I was writing. I guess one of the reasons I write is because I can’t find the sort of fantasy I want to read, and this book is very much written for myself. But from online discussions, it just sometimes felt I was the lone voice. I found myself getting very frustrated that I didn’t seem to be able to communicate my vision of what I was trying to do to these people. That’s not a good position for a writer to be in.
And all this built up like a steam kettle inside me, until I realised I needed to step away and take a breather for a week or so.
I think this was wise, as it allowed me to gain a little perspective. You know, I think my book is a damn good one, and I think people will like it but the fact is I don’t have a book deal yet. May never get one. I’ve got to meet a lot of authors in the last year, have quite a few I consider friends. And you know what? They are not super-human. They do not have super powers that got them a book deal, they just wrote a kick ass book. I have a book I think is kick ass and to which a lot of people have been largely positive. But you know what, that’s not the only idea I have. I came up with an absolute kick-ass idea at SFX Weekender that’s been growing in my head ever since.
March is open submissions at Angry Robot and there was part of me that considered rushing the book to get it into them. But you know what, for whatever reason, it doesn’t feel like the right path for me (Angry Robot possibly, but I’d prefer to go in agented). It’s better I take my time to make it the best it can be rather than rush it.
I realised that I have all the time in the world right now so instead of getting frustrated about the time it’s taking, I should stop making a fuss and just keep on chipping away at it. I’ve found myself rewriting a lot of the end, just to tie up a lot of the emotional arcs and make it feel more like the end of a book rather than the end of a part in a book. I have a chapter and a half to go, although that may expand to tie up some character arcs. But you know what, I think the story works, and these extra chapters strengthen the story.
So in answer to the question. Yes, I’m continuing to write, just trying to get it done rather than worry about it and cover every possible outcome.
I would like to get the revisions done by Eastercon though!