What a high! What a sense of accomplishment. What a proud moment, such an awesome moment.
And then, reality set in. What if what I had written was no good? What if the plot didn't make sense? What if the characters were unbelievable?
I couldn't let my achievement go to my head. From the pinnacle of my literary success, I nose-dived into uncertainty and self doubt. What would others think of my book?
When I started my current writing project in April last year, just three months after the publication of Valley of Thracians, I didn't have an outline or a clear indication about the ending of my new book. The only thing certain in my mind was the starting point, a very real event that I couldn't stop thinking about. Next to develop in my head were two very strong main characters, a man and a woman. I began to imagine how they would interact and what they would say to each other.
I continued to write at my regular pace of one hour a day (and I've previously described how I am able to add that essential extra hour onto my already very busy schedule). Day after day, week after week, the plot developed, making more sense all the time. Things fell into place; my characters started to become real.
Months passed and I finally reached what I thought, at the time, was an exciting and fitting conclusion to the story. My faithful alpha-reader (in other words, my wife) was eager to read what I had written, but the manuscript wasn't quite perfect in my mind. I didn't want to give it to her until I could ensure that my words were conveying my vision for the story.
So, it was back to the book. Now I was editing, a process I enjoy much more than writing. Every correction or addition I made improved the original draft of my ideas. As I worked, the plot structure became more logical, more suitable, more engaging. But, I realized that the ending of my novel was all wrong. I needed something stronger, some way to tie everything together more conclusively.
My mind soaked up ideas like a sponge, and many of them were added to the story. Research into some of the themes gave me new directions, better ways to proceed. And then, in a pivotal moment of inspiration, I envisioned an alternative ending and realized it was the one I had secretly desired all along.
I finished the second draft of my book and was eager to hear what my wife thought of it. But, wait! There were a few small things I first needed to fix. I couldn't show her an unfinished, imperfect product. A quick re-reading of the manuscript showed me that certain scenes demanded revisions. I went through everything from the beginning a third time. Better sentence structure. Improved dialogue. Additional suspense. It came together!
Awesome! But not yet complete.
At this moment, the third draft of my new novel is being read not only by my wife, but by a number of volunteer beta-readers as well. I know that what I've written is not perfect. I know there are things to fix, mistakes to correct. I am eager to get feedback from my readers and begin tackling the fourth draft.
What will readers think of what I wrote? I await their reports with bated breath, unable to concentrate on new writing projects. The awesomeness of what I've accomplished is still sinking in, but I know there's a lot of work ahead.
How I Found Time to Write in My Busy Schedule
Why I Prefer Editing a Novel to Writing One
How I Found My Editor