My last post got a little ahead of itself. Yes, my readers came back with the thumbs up and said the novel was good to go. But I just had to take one last look at it myself, having kept it in a drawer for several weeks. My response upon reading it again? Yeah. It’s all right. I suppose.
When I mentioned to my readers I wasn’t one hundred percent satisfied, they said I was being hyper critical. ‘You never will be one hundred per cent satisfied.’
It is very hard to judge your own novel, even when you’ve left it alone for a while. You still know what’s going to happen. You know why every scene exists. There is none of the surprise, delight, or anticipation that you hope there will be for a real reader. Yet, knowing it so well is also what makes the writer the ultimate judge. Having worked so hard on it, I couldn’t bear to send it out while there were things still niggling at me.
Those niggles were centred around the scene order in one section of the book. So, without making notes, or even scratching my head, I set upon it in a brief frenzy of cutting and pasting. I did this whilst barely looking at the screen, barely reading what was in front of me. I was so familiar with this novel I could work on it intuitively, shifting around chunks of prose and editing others to accommodate the changes. It was like writing with my eyes closed.
It felt good to be able to view a work of one hundred and seventeen thousand words as a whole, to edit it in one bite, rather than viewing it as a series of separate chapters, paragraphs, or sentences, which is, after all, how it began. When I was finished, I read it through, ironed out any remaining anomalies and thought, right then, I’m done.
In a couple of weeks I shall be returning to the wonderful writers’ retreat I reported on a year ago. Then, I was busy working on my second draft. Now, I am going to be starting something new. I’m full of excitement about that. I’ve no idea what will come out of it, but at least I have the experience of having seen the process through before, beginning to end. I know that, for now, it will be one sentence at a time, eyes wide open.