Clockwork

Edits. Edits round two. Edits round three. Soon, the copy edits. Then page proofs. Acknowledgements. The final brush-strokes on my book. In a couple of weeks, the first proofs are being printed. Some authors have already had electronic proofs. Slowly, like a chrysalis, my book is emerging, blinking, into the world.

But where am I? Well, here, in my living room, held in abeyance. Waiting.

Everything but the Truth began its life in August 2014, just a few feet from where I’m sitting now, on a gloomy Saturday evening. It was stormy, outside, and I’d lit so many candles they’d made the cat sneeze and so we were blowing them out. And there it came, my idea, like clockwork as the nights begin to darken and the last Bank Holiday approaches: what if . . . 

I wrote the first draft by Christmas, delivering it to myself (I am very good at self-imposed deadlines) on Christmas Eve, heading out for non-alcoholic mulled wine and finding it hard to believe, as I looked out across the German Christmas market, that my book was done.

I spent much of the evenings that next year re-writing another book. It was good training, in hindsight, for now. An author friend recently said to me that this is the way of it: draft one, edit one, promote one. Like a steady, plate-spinning rhythm. Friday evening, edits come in. Put aside book two. Pick up book one. Who are these people again? Oh yes. Like having dinner with old friends.

I re-wrote it, as I often do, in September and October 2015. And then, like a painting that looks awful until the shadows are added, the light here and there, I knew it was done. Ready.

That’s just beginning to happen with my current book. It’s my favourite phase. If I were a mother, I would liken it to aged almost-one, when everything is changing and the baby goes from sitting to standing to walking in only a few short weeks. I sit back and look at it, my year’s work. It’s not perfect yet, but I can see how it will be. The final aspects of it are falling into place. It’s got a name (I always name late, like a couple rushing into the registry office on the last possible day). It’s got characters I could pick out of a crowd, know them if I bumped into them in Starbucks. It’s nice, this becoming of my book. And soon this one will be delivered, and this one will be the one I come back to as I set aside the third one. The one I had my idea for last weekend, during the Bank Holiday washout.

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Author:

Author. Debut novel, Everything But The Truth, out with Penguin next year.

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