As I sent The Interlude off to Cornerstones for its 2nd edit last Monday, I resolved that I must, MUST, leave the manuscript alone for the 3-4 weeks it will take for the critique to come back. No flicking through the opening chapters, no double-checking on whether a certain passage ‘works’, no revisiting of key scenes. I knew I needed to create some distance between myself and my book so that when it comes time for the editor’s report to land in my inbox, I will have a hope of digesting it with something akin to a fresh perspective.
I have been through this once before; when The Interlude went off for its first edit back in September, Kathryn (one of the lovely managing editors at Cornerstones) advised me to take a break whilst I waited. That time around I didn’t find doing so too troublesome. I believe this was due to two factors:
- I was still working fulltime so during the day I was too busy to pick up the pages, and by the evening, too exhausted after 10 months of very little sleep
- I knew it wasn’t finished. But, whilst I was confident that it needed something, I was unsure of what. In that respect, I was more than happy to let Cornerstones take it and spin some magic for me in terms of feedback designed to inspire
This time around though I am struggling. The book feels much more finished this time, and for some reason that is making it harder to just leave it sitting on my hard drive (I keep on having flashes of self-doubt which makes me want to go back and check it – it’s a bit like waiting for my A-Level results all over again!). Then, because Cornerstones helped me get a lot closer to my characters - who they are, where they have been, what motivates them - now that I am not writing them every day, I miss them. Kathryn did suggest that I get going on my next project… but whilst that used to be a book set in 1920s India (which I still intend to write), I now think that my immediate next project might just be the sequel to The Interlude. I am not sure if starting on that is cheating!
I find myself thinking about my characters all the time. As I bathe the children in the evening, get dinners ready, grocery shop, carry on with all of the incidentals of life, a part of me is back in 1914-1918, breathing the lives of these people who, unbelievably, a year ago did not exist.
When I started writing, I wasn’t prepared for how consuming it would become, how the essence of a story would form a very real part of my own being. Just the other week my husband said, with a deep sigh, ‘This is it, isn’t it. Now that you are doing this, we are just going to lose you for chunks of time.’ I replied that I had no idea what he was talking about, that I wasn’t lost, that I was there. But I have to admit he was right; with a novel on the go, there is a part of me that exists somewhere else. When I worked in the corporate world, I was very good at leaving my job at the office. Now, I simply have no desire to leave my ‘job’ anywhere. So, even though I know I must not look back at my manuscript, I find myself constantly eyeing ‘My Documents’ where it is safely stored, only just resisting the temptation to do so.
It’s 1pm on a very warm Sydney Tuesday. I have a notebook and pen right in front of me. Someone I have never met is asleep on the other side of the world, and perhaps halfway through my book, forming their opinion and feedback. I have no idea what they will have made of it, and I have to be honest, I am waiting far from patiently to find out. Perhaps it is, after all, time to begin brainstorming the next chapter.