Earlier this year I drafted my first novel.
That felt good but I was surprised to find that finishing it left me with only a temporary glow. You see I knew it wasn’t actually finished. It needed a lot of work. For one thing it was saved in separate files and needed putting together. For another it needed organising into chapters.
So the week after finishing it I started editing and that felt good too. I cut a good 4 or 5 thousand words out of the original draft, tightened it up, organised it and had something more or less coherent. I was planning to give it out to beta readers this month and do a third draft by the end of the year, (I was going to give it to my parents for Christmas).
Last week I printed the manuscript for the first time. My lovely wife brought it downstairs, saying:
“Congratulations, the birth was successful and I’m delighted to tell you: It’s a book!”
I cuddled the manuscript. It felt nice and weighty and real. I pressed it to my chest and enjoyed its still-warm bookyness.
It still isn’t ready!
The problem with babies (paper ones or otherwise) is that they aren’t ready to go straight out into the world. They need a lot of love and attention to become strong and independent. The aforementioned wife asked me if perhaps I was rushing things a little. And, as so often seems to be the case, she was right. I was trying to rush the process at the cost of quality.
So much as it pains me to do so, I’m putting the manuscript away in a draw* and not touching it till the New Year. That’s hard to do. I’m desperate to give it out to beta readers right now and get feedback but in my heart I know that I’ll do the work more service if I wait, get some distance and review it with perspective.
In the meantime, I’ll press on with the Friday Flashes and start turning my brain to the sequel.
Sorry parents, I’ll have to think of something else to get you for Christmas.
*Not advisable with real babies