Thursday, 21 April 2011
A Bitter-Sweet Affair
For the most part, I have a good relationship with my work in progress. My manuscript and I co-exist happily enough, both needing the other in order to get closer to a finished novel. But like any relationship, we have our ups and downs. But doesn't every writer hate their manuscript at some stage? Surely even the most successful author must doubt their next piece of work occasionally. Forget the old cliche of a roller coaster. My emotions are more like scaling and free-falling the Pennines!
One minute I love my work in progress. I think to myself, 'This is brilliant! It's so much better than that last reading book I bought but was too boring to finish.' I'm thrilled with the plot and my fingers are tapping on the keyboard like a demented woodpecker. Fast forward an hour, and I'm doubting my worthiness as a writer and wondering if I'll ever be published. Despite the free-fall, I know I love writing and have a great affinity with my characters. They're like real friends to me. I know what they're thinking, what they worry about and what they dream about. In fact, I miss the characters in Lies and Linguine and wonder how their lives have panned out since I left them. But no matter how much I love to write, some days it's difficult to stay motivated.
Manuscripts have to be almost perfect these days. Agents and publishers have such hectic and cost-sensitive work days, that they're looking for manuscripts which have been polished and sparkle, requiring very little additional tweaking. Nowadays a writer can't be satisfied with sending out three chapters and a synopsis having only edited them a couple of times. A book must be professionally prepared before submission. I suppose that's where some of the doubt creeps in. No matter how many times I return to a chapter, I can always swap a word, or tweak a sentence. It's knowing when you've done your best and it's time to step away.
Just like the lottery, you have to be in it to win it! If you don't finish your novel and edit it to within an inch of its life, you won't stand a chance at finding a publisher. But the crazy thing is, even if I won the lottery, all I really want to do is write. So surely I should be satisfied with the knowledge that I'm already doing what I love?
I think it's time to kiss and make up. My new characters in Sugar and Spite are waiting for me. We need to work together to get my second book finished. If you'll excuse me....I have a date with my keyboard!