My third novel currently exists only in scraps and sketches, odd scenes and possible scenarios. There are some chapters, but will they stay? There are two versions of some scenes – one first person, one third person; I'm still not sure what works best. It's all going on in my head – the characters have taken up residence and are talking to me all the time. The only trouble is, they keep changing – ages, names, occupations; all sorts. I have my themes – I think – and I have an outline of the story, but anyone who's ever written longer fiction knows that the story changes as you go along, which means more planning, and more doubt creeping in. Can I make this work? Will I ever finish this book?
The Secrets We Left Behind is the indisputable evidence that what seemed utterly impossible to me at that point was possible – I did it, I finished the book and it's coming out in two weeks' time!
By the way - the launch is on 21st May at Waterstones, Orchard square, Sheffield at 6:30pm – do come along if you're in the area!
I see that I'd hoped to finish a first draft by August 2012, but it actually took longer, and although I finished a rough draft just after Christmas, it was early April 2013 before I was ready to show the MS to my agent and my editor. But giving myself a deadline was still a good idea, because it encouraged me to push forward, to keep going, to keep putting the words on the page even though I knew there would be lots of rewriting to do and cuts to make.
I'm considering trying the 'pebbles in a jar' approach again (see original post), or maybe I'll make a graph and stick it on the wall. But whatever happens, re-reading this post has reminded me that what I'm feeling now is normal (for me, anyway, and I think for a lot of other writers) and that I just need to keep going, to keep the faith. I hope this, and/or the original post might offer a glimmer of hope to those of you currently experiencing the agony of the first draft!
29 June 2012