It was my manuscript. Printed in full for the first time.
‘What is that?’ my six year old asked, as I took to the parcel with scissors.
‘It’s a story I wrote.’
She eyed it off. The pristine white document. An inch and a half thick. 320 pages.
‘You wrote all of that?’
‘Yes’, I replied in the half second she gave me before launching into a story about a Year Two kid who wrote a book that was even longer than mine.
Still, later that night, I took a photo of my manuscript and posted it on twitter with the caption. That feeling you get when you print your manuscript in full for the first time.
But what is that feeling?
For me, it’s a mixture of things, which can mostly be summarised by the words ‘satisfaction’ and ‘trepidation’.
The satisfaction arises from the achievement of a goal. I wanted to write a novel, and I have done that. No one can ever take that away from me. Even if it’s never published, I have done something that many people talk about, but don’t sit down and do.
The trepidation arises from asking myself the question – ‘what now?’ For me, writing the novel has been a hopeful process. Maybe, just maybe this will be the one that gets published.
Now’s the time to get that question answered – to send the manuscript to agents and publishers to see if it is the one that gets published.
I know my chances are slim. Scoring an agent, let alone a publisher will be far more difficult than the actual writing process, because, in many ways, it is largely beyond my control. Hence, my trepidation.
It is almost frightening to think that the hundreds, possibly thousands of hours I have spent writing this thing may amount to nothing.
Perhaps some will see it as a waste. I, personally, am trying not to. I have enjoyed the process. I love getting lost in my own thoughts about the plot. I love the sense of satisfaction that creating something brings me. I love that I have learned so much about writing a book.
Besides, what else would I have done with that time? Gone shopping? Spent more time cleaning? More time with the kids? I’m not sure that I can see these as being any more productive than the time I have spent on this novel. My kids already get plenty of my time. The house is generally pretty clean. And I usually end up buying nothing when I shop. Really, nothing has been lost.
But my hope and my resolve is about to be tested as I subject the work to independent eyes. I don’t mind constructive criticism. I welcome it! What I fear most is the silence. Or rejection without explanation, leaving you with nowhere to go. That is what I experienced with my first manuscript. And I’m prepared to experience it with my second, though I know it won’t be easy.
In the meantime, I’m just going to keep writing. I have another idea for a novel, which excites me. This time, I’m going to be more strategic in my approach. I’m going to think about what I really love to read. I’m going to study those books, and work out how the authors do it. But then I’m going to do it in my own words, with my own ideas.
I can’t wait!