It’s World Book Day. At least, I hope it is, or I should probably expect a concerned phone call from my kids’ school after they went in dressed as Alice in Wonderland and a Nazgul from Lord of the Rings.
It’s also high time I wrote an update to my own book-writing endeavours. I’m proud to say that my first draft is complete. It’s two months behind schedule thanks to another bout of the world’s most popular respiratory virus (and all the long covid complications that means for me), but I got it over the line nonetheless.
Well, over the first line, at least. It turns out that there’s quite a bit more work to do. Last week, after six jubilant hours of (premature?) celebration, I started to re-read my draft manuscript and my bubble burst a bit. I became increasingly despondent with every passing paragraph as I choked on my overindulgent prose filled with laboured sentences, heavy-handed dialogue and a host of other ‘amateur hour’ mistakes, as well as some glaring narrative inconsistencies that demand rewrites.
Thankfully, those habits seem to thin out as the book goes on, so perhaps I’m seeing my writing style develop over the 85,000 words. I’ve still got faith in the overall story, and I’m very proud of some chapters, but I’ve certainly got some literary paramedic-ing to do.
I have been reassured by various guides, articles, podcasts and videos by authors and editors (and of course directly by Drew and Tim, whose experience, insight and support as published authors continue to be invaluable) that this is entirely normal. At least I hope so, because my imposter syndrome is trying to set up its own office.
So what next?
Well, before I dare let another human cast eyes over what I’ve written, I need to get my editor hat on. My first step will be to write a new synopsis which will help me to reassemble the overall plot in my head. I’m still quite surprised how much the planned story has evolved and deviated from what I originally set out to write. I’ve also started to flatter myself by looking into literary agents. But therein lies the primary cause of my imposter syndrome, so not too much of that. Then I’ve got to roll up my sleeves and start cutting, changing and improving the text itself before sending it to beta readers.
My alpha ‘readers’ have been uncompromising in their feedback. I’ve been reading it to my children at bedtime, which has been an interesting challenge, but it certainly helps to expose elements that don’t work. Although those are the very parts that seem to get them to sleep quicker, so there’s a fringe benefit to bad writing.
My expectations remain realistic. I hope to be able to produce a finished novel that will be worthy of publication, but there are no guarantees. In any case, I realise now that it won’t be in time for Michael’s 18th birthday on 15 April this year. I will have to be content with the fact that the story exists, albeit in draft form.
It’s been an emotional ride so far, and I’m pleased to have got this far. The return of my migraines and fatigue (thanks Omicron) has definitely slowed my progress, but I shrugged it off before, and will do it again. Pass me the aspirin.