Sunday, 5 October 2014

Are you STILL writing that book?

It's a long and lonely journey
'Are you STILL writing that book?' are words that weigh heavy for any writer and cause much pain. They are often said by a well meaning non writer who has no concept of the process. No doubt that first draft was written rapidly to great delight but that is only the beginning.

A first draft is a shell of a story. It shows the basic form of it and gives you a chance to see whether the story does actually work. No doubt it will have a baggy middle and you may well have started in the wrong place. We all do but only by writing that first draft are we able to work these things out. What comes next is probably several rewrites. The rewrites may well go into double figures and that is not to be ashamed of as each one will be better than the last. I am currently on the sixth rewrite of my WIP. Rewriting is all part of the editing process. It gives you a chance to iron out all those parts where you can ask the question 'could I show this better?' It allows you to get to know your characters inside out. Work out your settings. I have in the past as I have mentioned on in this blog previously totally changed settings. Not this time though.

Writing is a long and lonely journey. This can be eased by working with the likes of the Golden Egg Academy  (GEA) where you have the chance to work with an experienced editor. You can be part of a critique group, where you develop a real trust for all the members and you can provide support for each other as you are in the same situation.

Don't give it to family and friends for feedback. However much you ask them to be truthful in their feedback they won't. They care about you and they are going to want to like it and not hurt you. Feedback is always a tricky thing. You don't always have to agree with it. It is there for you to ask questions of the manuscript. If several people are coming up with the same thing then there really is a problem but you have to remember all feedback is subjective.

Writing, rewriting, rewriting again however many times is necessary to get it right and editing all takes times and cannot be rushed. You cannot put a time limit on it. People often ask me 'How long until you think I will be finished?' I cannot give them an honest answer because I  don't know how long their personal writing journey will take. I don't know what their writing processes are but also you never know when life might get in the way. For example my own life has been turned upside down by a simple total knee replacement. I was supposed to be back at work last week. I am not and I still can't drive. It is quietly driving me potty particularly as the pain is very distracting and making it very difficult to concentrate. I couldn't have planned for that.

Those who do not write expect that you just write your novel, send it off and it is published. Oh how wrong could they be? As mentioned in my previous post please do not send your MS off to an agent or a publisher until it is as good as you can get it. There is a caveat to that though. There is a risk of spending too long tinkering for fear of sending it off. Sometimes you do have to bite the bullet and say enough is enough but only you (or if you have the support of the likes of GEA they will help you) can decide.

So next time that well meaning person asks 'Are you STILL writing that book?' reply 'Yes I am!' with pride not with embarrassment because you are doing the best job you can.

This seemed apt today


  1. I'm still writing mine and I know I have a way to go. There are times when everything flows but equally there are times when life gets in the way. Good luck with your rewrite(s) and with the knee! xx

    1. Thank you Sue and good luck with yours. We will get there...eventually ;-) xx

  2. Vanessa - what wonderful wise words. So sorry to read how rough things have been for you. I hope you get support and more time for your writing. Wishing you better. Sue too x

  3. Thank you for helping me come up with a reply to a question which, up till now, has made my heart sink. I've only just come to terms with the fact that there is no time limit on an MS and that rewriting doesn't mean it won't work out and your blog has helped to confirm this. Missed you last week at the Lighthouse and hope the worst of the pain is behind you. x

    1. Thank you Jen, missed seeing you too. Gather you all had an amazing time though x