Sunday, November 8, 2009

Twiddling my thumbs

So! As the poem began, I finished the book!

Well, I've been saying that for so long I can't remember. Partly because there are so many stages, it seems, to finishing. There's the first draft. The second draft. The draft that went to the agent. The draft that came back from the agent. The draft that incorporated his feedback. The draft I finally finished, and then I sat on the book over the weekend to see if any other points came back to me, and the draft that included those little changes.

Each time something about the book changed. It got longer, usually, smaller characters got bigger parts, and some of the characters began to drift through various drafts in their roles and motivations. As the author it was all fascinating!

And the book's not really finished. Like the fatted cow, it's just finished enough to go to market.

And now I'm twiddling my thumbs, which is a wonderfully odd place for me, as this book has been about 4 years work (I can't get a reliable doc 'created' date as 'm on a different computor, but the earliest file I have is a six page beginning, which is still the beginning, last modified on 27th October 2006 which fits nicely my recollection of a year's research, followed by three years writing.)

Where next? The sequel of course, which is great to look forward to. And the selling of the book, which is part of the general air of disappointment (not necesserily with the money, but the whole slightly grubby but entirely necessary marketisation of my book. But also putting my feet up more, spending more time with the kids (genuinely!) and reading. Four years is a long time to learn things, and I've learnt alot of stuff during (and not necesserily connected to or because of) writing this book. One is the kind of books I like to read. I knew it of course, but I'm clearer now about what kind of books I don't like. I suppose 'genre' is the closest way to describe the kind of books I like. But 'genre' seems to be a term used to describe books (crime, fantasy, science fiction, romance, whatever) where story is important. And I have found that I rather like story. In fact, story is gripping in a way that beautiful language, clever literary references, or any of the other marks of that rather doomed genre 'literary fiction' is not.

And to make some kind of sense of this blog, I think each draft has made this novel more about the story (as well as the historicity and the characters and the beauty of the language of course!) It's a good thing to have learnt. But hell, this is only my fourth novel, so I'm just a beginner really.

What is she called? Well, this novel has gone through a couple of names, and now she's called Shieldwall. Not a very female name to be honest, and as I've compared my other novels to girlfriends, I guess this one is less like a lover than a great friend. Reader, meet Shieldwall, Shieldwall, meet reader! I think you'll get along very just fine!

No comments: