What’s it like writing a book?
It’s exciting, frustrating, time-consuming, brilliantly liberating, ruinous, reassuring, the smoothest path to self doubt known. It’s these things and more.
As an independent author, it’s also a job that never seems to end with the last line of a work in progress. No sooner is a first draft completed, than it demands an edit. And that doesn’t mean you get to read through and look for typos. You have to locate someone with fresh eyes to pull your baby to bits and explain where you went wrong. Because you most certainly did. This means researching editors and finding one (a structural editor) you think gets you – and one you can afford. They will spell out as gently as possible that what you have on your hands is a first draft. It is not the finished product. Not by the widest of chalks.
They try to be kind when they point out where the story doesn’t flow, where someone’s eyes changed colour. They whisper in your ear about how a character appear sto be in two places at once. You find out where the action sags and lags and where it moves too fast. They’ll point out which chapters develop the story and which might as well go – the ones you’re told to squander will always be the ones you cherish most. When you’ve worked your way through their edits, it goes to another editor (the copy editor) who checks it again. And ultimately, when you’ve done all the things two total strangers have said, a third one (the proof reader) steps in and corrects your grammar and spelling. The thing you were sure you had a handle on. Turns out, you’re not really the sharp-shooter you thought.
Marketing your book
All this soul-destroying feedback takes place while you’re meant to be promoting another book. There’s likely six months to a year before that much-maligned latest work in progress makes the shops, and that means switching from one world and one story to another. It’s time to go back to your last book. The one you just paid to edit and paid even more to get a decent cover designed. You were exhausted with that six months ago. Right now, you never want to see it again. But to the reading world that something is new, and you need to shimmer with joy and elation as you create and carry through a marketing plan. Hopefully, you’ll fall back in love with your old book – often to the detriment of the one you’re now paying people to pull apart.
And did I touch on holding down a day job, maintaining a relationship, fitting in friends, cooking dinner, washing yourself and making sure the car stays taxed?
Would I have it any other way?