As we wave goodbye to the Olympics in the UK, I’m left feeling a great sense of pride for all the talented athletes that took part, sharing the elation of those who managed to achieve their aims: whether to reach the event, make a certain round, or gain a medal. All those years of hard work, finally paying off.
I celebrated an achievement myself this past week (very small in comparison to the above) by completing the first draft of my second book. Some writers claim to write a book in a few months, others (including a professional author with a major publishing house I spoke to recently) aim to write two a year, some release one a year. As Newbies, many of us have day jobs as well as the usual family commitments, and squeeze our word mongering into every spare moment in the busy schedule that our lives have become. My second book emulated the first, taking eighteen months to complete.
This felt like a major achievement to me, certainly warranting cracking open a bottle and celebrating with friends. So, you can imagine my disappointment when I read it back and felt… something was wrong. I should probably intercept here – anyone that knows me is well aware that I’m a fan of page turning thrillers. My pet peeve is when I’m reading a really good book and hit a lull in the story. Anyway, I read my manuscript back and found not one lull, but several!
I sought to write a book that I would like to read myself and gaps in the story where you take a quick nap or, dare I say it, skip a chapter **gasps** don’t do it for me. Feeling disheartened, I relayed my misery to my hubby who simply said, ‘It was the same first time round. Don’t you remember how many times you re-worked An Unfamiliar?’ Dah, no! I think my brain is only wired to remember the exciting parts of finishing the script and submitting. But actually he is probably right.
It seems it will still be some time before the manuscript is ready for submission. It needs a touch more tender loving: a thorough read through, some tweaking in places, tightening in others, maybe a couple of re-writes in parts (to get rid of those nasty lulls). This time I’ve been fortunate to secure a psychologist to review the profile of my principle protagonist and I’m just waiting for those results. Like athletes, we practise incessantly. As writers, we hone our skills, develop our style, craft our characters, push ourselves to produce prose that conveys a story we are proud of.
So, the finishing line is in sight. I guess it’ll just take a little more sweat and determination before I finally reach the end goal.
Jane Isaac’s first novel, An Unfamiliar Murder, is out now. Jane still considers herself very much a Newbie and with a day job, a family, and a very demanding black Labrador, she squeezes her writing into every spare moment she gets. You can catch up with her at www.janeisaac.co.uk