I tweeted this link a while ago and it really struck a chord with me: Game of Drafts
Not only is Rebecca Wait an author published by my friends at Picador, but she straight off hits the nail on the head with this one!
Drafting is a bitch. And re-drafting is like a bitch on heat, all hot and bothered, anxious and frustrated, unable to see the end. But once it’s over it is pure joy. And you realise that what you’ve come out with at the other end is SO much better, and that your writing has reached another level, and that all those hours of tearing your hair out was worth it. That feeling is great. I was going to say it is priceless, but I will save that particular adjective for when I’ve managed to procure an agent and a publisher for Let Her Go. That will be priceless.
I love the way Rebecca likens her re-drafting experience to an inept child playing with Lego, even though I try (desperately) to finish one draft before embarking on the ‘next’ one it never quite seems to work that way. My head is still swimming with improvements and queries. Would it be better in third person past tense, or third person present? I did finally convince myself that third person was best, but what if it isn’t? I better re-read some of my earlier drafts just to make sure. And wasn’t that particular chapter extra strong as a first person narrative? This is normally where I pause to make myself a cup of tea, cursing under my breath at the fact that I don’t have an editor to guide me.
However, at some point, you just have to cut the cord. This is a piece of writing we’re talking about, not the M1 (not that they haven’t tried to improve on that afterwards). Think of all those 2nd/3rd/4th editions out there. I love my characters, and yes, there are paragraphs, sections, and even chapters where I feel as though I am losing them, but to me they are real people. They too have off days when nothing much is happening. I guess that’s not what we look for in a bombastic read, we want constant escapism and removal from our own reality. But when does writing become too fastidious for it’s own good?
A potentially important person described her thoughts on the first couple of chapters of Let Her Go as a ‘quiet debut’. I believe it was meant as a negative, describing how difficult it would be for me to launch myself as a writer based on this novel, but I like it. It IS a quiet title. With stockinged feet it should tiptoe into your life, leaving a small but permanent impression. I want it to linger, like a fleeting perfume that settles into your clothes and tapestries; I want it to remain with you, let random things remind you, perhaps only briefly, of my story. I never intended for it to go Boom!
I’ve already started thinking of a second novel, and it is important (to me) that this is something totally different. Writing a continuous narrative is exhausting, but I am eager to try my writing hand at a different genre, and to find out what this three-year long journey has taught me. Perhaps I will find my true talent lies in complex crime or horror? Only time will tell.