So, I may be a bit late off the starting block with my ‘Writing Journey’ blog since I actually began writing my book back in October before Lockdown 2. However, it also seems an appropriate time since I feel I’m at a crossroads, where I’ve ground to a screeching halt! I’m questioning whether to start my 75,000 word manuscript all over again or even give up! So perhaps an ideal time to start sharing my journey to show the ups and downs involved and in some indulgent way perhaps motivate me to keep going!
I was told ‘more haste, less speed’, that old adage we are all so familiar with. How true that would seem now. I’m used to setting myself goals with deadlines and just ‘going for it’, but let’s be real here, I have absolutely no idea just how much is involved in writing, publishing and marketing a book from scratch! There is so much to learn on this new path of mine! I told myself I would be published at the beginning of 2020…a tad optimistic I now think!
I finished my 75,000-word manuscript 2 weeks ago and felt very satisfied having re-jiggled and edited the whole thing twice. It felt like a massive achievement and I had reached the stage of not wanting to set eyes on it again, which I had heard ‘all authors’ reach when the book is ready to go for professional editing.
I sent it off to my editor for what’s called a BETA read, rather than a full edit. This means that she reads the book to ensure it structurally flows and is basically ‘readable’. I can’t tell you how nerve wracking it felt hitting the send button, not just because I was about to reveal such a personal and intimate story about myself, but also fear that she may come back saying something like;
“Nikki, sweetheart, what are you doing? Go away and do a writing course or something, that would be the best place for you to start.”
At times I feel very lost in the new ‘writers world’ I find myself in.’ I have no previous experience of writing (other than my blog), and have zero qualifications for becoming an ‘author’. It plays havoc with ‘imposter’ syndrome and my insecurity does question some days what on earth am I doing? But for those of you who know me, I’m a firm believer that we all need to push ourselves outside our comfort zone and this makes me determined to carry on. I keep telling myself ‘Nikki, you have one hell of a story to get out there, and your voice needs to be heard.’
I don’t want to grow old and be one of those people who says ‘I was going to write a book…’ but never did. I want to see it through.
So, my report came back yesterday with some very kind words and my worst fears were put at rest.
“You have written a very important story here and one that I am sure will be of interest to a variety of readers. You write with a refreshing honesty and vulnerability and your narrative is very engaging.”
Yippee, this made my heart skip. There were some obvious grammatical errors such as confusing ‘lay’ and ‘lie’, you don’t say I’m going to ‘lay’ down its ‘lie down’, but you can ‘lay’ a book on a table. Also, the past participle is ‘lain’ and not ‘laid’, who knew? But this is all part of my learning process and easily rectified.
Then the clanger…
“I would consider starting at a different point in the narrative and then going back to what happened prior to the psychosis, otherwise your reader will wonder what is interesting about the story. So perhaps start with the psychosis or waking up in the hospital, for example, and then work backwards? You will then have ‘hooked’ your reader, and, hopefully, they will want to continue reading.”
Easier said than done for a novice like me! I’m almost OCD about structure and having things in chronological order, so jumping around all over the story is not something that will come naturally to me! I looked at the manuscript a little this morning and felt overwhelmed that, perhaps, my only option is to start the whole book again? How do I completely change the narrative starting point and interweave everything else into that? Either it’s an awful lot of copy and pasting or re-typing from scratch, surely? Well, whichever it is, I will pick it up after Christmas put myself back into gear and give it my best shot. I must focus on the positive and how the report ends, which is with the words;
”I know that this is very personal to you, and I very much appreciate the fact that you have trusted me to read your story. You have done a really good job – there is some work to do, but there’s so much potential.”