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On editing: a beginning's end

2018 was a crazy year, everything moved fast and then the real work started. I thought it was about time I posted an update on the journey to publication. While it may seem quiet where you are, this end of the stick has been a busy one. There has been a lot of exciting stuff as well as some hard stuff too. As I enter the year before The Boy I Am is released, with a lot of adventures ahead, and most (I hope) of the tough editing behind me, it feels like a good time to share. After spending so much time, pre-agent, working towards that goal. It felt like a mountain top. And yes, it is. But you know what you see when you get to the top of the mountain? Another mountain.

The exciting stuff:

Finishing last ‘structural edit’ while having dinner at the base of the Burj Dubai’s restaurant. Enjoying a lovely glass of whisky. Having a little happy cry. (Mar, 2019)

1) Having an agent and editors who love your book and want to make sure it’s the best it can be. Who ‘get it’ without you needing to explain. It makes you feel in the company of super-powered creatures, like - ‘how did they work that out, can they actually read my mind?’ 2) Seeing friends’ books come out and gushing over how beautiful they are, and being able to feel the inner squee of ‘me soon’. 3) Growing and learning from amazing authors debuting around me and absorbing their fabulous encouragement, therapy, information. The warm-embrace of not feeling alone. 4) Seeing my name appear in magazines and feeling like someone must have made a mistake before realising, no, that’s me, it’s okay, I deserve to be there. 5) Being able to support writers coming up behind me, the amazing UV20 list, Bare fiction, Bath Childrens’ Novel competition, places on amazing retreats, readers of Words & Pictures, new Golden Eggs … as many as I can to share what privilege I have been blessed with to get here, and to now exist ‘behind the curtain’. 6) Celebrating the people who got me here, feeling held tight as I stand up on their shoulders.

The hard stuff:

1) Accepting that making changes to my MS in the editing process may take more time now, because there’s so much more pressure to get it right for future readers, not just to try and woo an agent or publisher (see above note on fabulous editors and their support). Being okay with letting it take time. 2) Managing the ‘how long?’ question when I tell people my book is out in 2021. Not feeling the pressure to rush.

3) Book 2 ideas, and putting them down. Finding a new process now we’re in a new world. 4) Being daunted by the book market, and pulling focus back to ‘the craft’. 5) Fitting editing my book, and planning my second, while managing the busiest year of my life (both personally and professionally). 6) Enjoying it. 7) Mentally preparing for bad reviews, more rejection and the not insignificant chance that no one will buy my book(s). This month particularly these feelings above are in focus. I was invited to share my author journey with over 20 members of the Golden Egg Academy program - some of whom have been at my shoulder the last few years. It was a wonderful moment. It felt like an ending of a beginning. in 2014 I sat around the same table, with an earlier draft of ‘Boy (then called ‘The Rotten Hive’) printed, and bound and ready for my notes. Ready to learn. I had a Schrodinger mind - every thought was two universes overlapping, one where i knew, ‘This is it, I’ll have an agent in a year’, and one of self-doubt, ‘what am I doing here, I don’t belong."‘ So, to return 5+ years later, with the newest bound print of my professionally edited MS, possibly* the last big edit before proofs and ARCs and a book on a shelf… oh my. If I could have cried and still come across as a professional, I would have. But it wasn’t an end, because I’ll be there again I imagine, and after all, every ending is a beginning. *hopefully

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end — ‘Closing Time’, Dan Wilson, Semisonic

I’ve always sought a traditional publishing deal because of the desire to collaborate. For me the art of curation, and the benefit of external support is the only way to improve my writing … this year, more than anything I feel like the product of many hands. Soon I get to do the one thing I’ve dreamed about more than picking up my book from a shelf, walking to a till, and buying it; I get to write my acknowledgements. I can’t wait.

2021. It’s coming.

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