Things to do when you finish writing your book

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On Sunday night at about midnight, I actually hit the final ‘submit’ button and sent my second book off to the RNA’s New writers Scheme to get critiqued.

Now as far as books go, ‘Something To believe In’ was written in fairly quick bursts last summer when I was off for the summer hols. I kept telling myself it was a Christmas novella, after I’d seen a submission request from Carina press. What did I have to lose, after all, they were only looking for the first chapter, or maybe it was the first three. Anyhow I thought up a story and bam, I wrote that story.

I sent it off, waiting with baited breath to be told, (in my dreams), that I was an amazing writer and I had won. Well of course that didn’t happen, but at least I’d entered, even with only three chapters, and it was fairly simple to finish the rest of the book off since I kept telling myself it was ‘just a novella’.

And really, it did only take a few weeks of intense writing to get it down on paper, all 57,000 words of it. I had done it. My previous novel had taken about 10 years, so here at least was progress.

I sent the story off to a couple of great readers who helped me shape it a bit more, and I thought I might self-publish it in time for Christmas.

But then I lost my nerve.

What if it wasn’t that good?

How can you tell if it is good? What if your version of good, is actually another person’s crap?

Self-doubt crept in big style and so I did nothing.

Christmas came and went, I was still a member of the NWS so I thought, well, I’ll submit it for critique and then I’ll see. Maybe if they say it’s fine I’ll self-publish in time for this Christmas. And I thought it was finished,

And I thought it was finished,  but life has a funny way of throwing curve balls at you.

The story is about a woman, Precious Grainger, who loses her husband and her Dad in the same house fire, and how, 5 years later she is still stuck in her cycle of grief.

I posted in my online writing group the synopsis that I wanted to use and I was asking for some feedback. One of the members commented how she would like to read it as she’d always found that a compelling and fascinating topic, how would a person deal with  multiple bereavements like that?

Well that made me sit up and think. I hadn’t even stopped to think how she might really be feeling, other than using it as a useful plot line to hang the story on, I hadn’t gone deeper.

Within a few days of this comment, my family was thrown into the most dreadful bereavement of our own. It wasn’t a multiple death like in the story, but it was still a shocking, unexpected, ripped the family apart type of event. It was a tragic event that should never have been a death, the event shouldn’t have led definitively to the end result. They might have lived. Now that is a tragedy.

And it made me see the story with fresh eyes, and it wasn’t finished.

Now I’m not saying I have produced a deep, powerfully moving epic story of love and loss, it is still a modern, contemporary christmas romance, but it is a different story with more depth, than the original one I started out with last summer.

So I wrote some more, added extra scenes, thought more about it. And I’m glad I waited, the story needed time to mature, to sink into my subconcious a bit more and develop, ferment, prove a bit more.

Perhaps when it comes back with its critique it still won’t be ready, it will still need more work, but I’m glad I hit submit. Because the other thing I have been working on in the last year, is that the bits I worry about constantly, my inner critic, are rarely going to be what everyone else is worrying about. The ‘what will people think’ scenario. The is it good enough? Because you know what? Everyone else, well women mainly, are all sitting at home thinking – am I good enough/ is this good enough? Will people like me/my work/my children/my craft?

We have to stop thinking like that. We have to do our best, strive, work at it etc, but then we have to let it go. And just get on with life and enjoy it, enjoy the creativity for what it is.

I have written another book, and its time to set it free. Some people will like it, others will hate it, but it will have no life of its own if I don’t hit ‘send’ and submit.

If I keep creating and never finish things for fear of failure, or if I finish but never send off, or if I talk about self-publishing but never do it – now that would be failure.

So now that this book has gone it’s time to have a bit more fun. Write a few short stories, for fun. Submit some stories, finish stories that have been piling up in my head for months and months and get on with life. And enjoy it. And stop tormenting myself with the ‘am I any good’ game.

Write, craft, create. But have fun and set your creativity free.

Read books. Bake. Enjoy life. And then sit down and start your next book.

I have been reading ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert. Can you tell?

 

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