A week ago today, I placed my pen down, closed my notepad and realised, “I’ve done it. I’ve actually written a book!”
How anti-climactic it felt, this huge achievement, that there was no fanfare, no ticker tape and, more importantly: no wine, (an oversight that has now been rectified). I wanted to cry with joy both at finishing the damn thing and completing it in the most ordinary of places: the sofa.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned during the writing process is that the first draft isn’t perfect, it’s never meant to be perfect. The first draft exists as the progenitor to all other drafts that come. It bears the main crux of what the story is about, who the characters are and where they’re going. What I will need to work out over the coming months is how to expand on that story further, flesh out the characters, trim the fat and tighten it up into a real page turner.
I have written the story I would want to read; that much is true. The characters who have taken up residence in my head finally have breathing space and purpose, they’re free to run amok and create chaos in the world I have created for them.
I have written 37 chapters, two of which are the prologue and epilogue, 90,820 words (80,000 original target) over three notebooks (I write long hand) and dedicated as much time as I could over the last five years to getting my book written.
My story has had many incarnations over the years. When it first popped into my head in my mid 20’s it had a very different plot but the characters were basically the same. I used to write on a digital typewriter so the pages were there instantaneously but, life, as you know, has a habit of getting in the way on occasion so I dipped in and out of writing for years before really getting down to it.
Even as a kid I used to write but I was very plagiarist back then (even though I didn’t know it). I once wrote a story called The Secret of Sarah Willow which was directly influenced by the fabulous Wolves of Willoughby Chase but at least I was exploring the ability to write. Who knows, I may return to that story one day and write it from my own imagination and not that of someone else.
What next? According to my research and other writers I’ve connected with via places like Twitter the main consensus is to have a break from the book (someone said two months!) so I can go back to it with a completely fresh outlook. I’m not sure I can wait that long as I’ve written in such fits and starts over the years that sometimes I’ve left it more than two months between chapters so I’m thinking a couple of weeks might be in order. The prologue was written in 2012 and having glanced at it recently, I’m pretty sure that it will need an overhaul as will most of the very early chapters.
But, how many drafts and rewrites should I do? Do writers get to a point where they think, “That’s it, I can’t do anymore?” or do they keep going?
Should I find an editor first or beta-readers? An agent or a publisher? (I’m thinking to try for an agent first). Is self-publishing better than e-publishing? What’s a good way of marketing my work?
So many questions!
It’s safe to say however, that, if I ever had a bucket list; then writing a book would definitely be on it and I can happily tick it off