Remember how I said, back in April, I’d finished my novel? I meant ‘finished’ as in, the draft I was working on was complete and I was ready to start showing it to agents. So I did that, and a couple of agents said nice things. Guess what? Now I’m re-writing it.
Showing the novel to people in the publishing industry was both bracing and encouraging. Encouraging, because just about everyone I talked to was interested in the story, liked my protagonist and were complimentary about my writing style. The people who read my first couple of chapters wanted to read more – and to me, there’s no greater compliment than that.
Bracing, because the agents who read the full draft spotted the weak points, the bits that didn’t quite add up, the characters that needed further development. Unerringly, they asked the questions I’d dodged. They were like super-readers, immediately identifying plot inconsistencies or places where I’d stretched probability a wee bit too far. It’s possible I could have worked this out for myself, given more time and experience. But this is my first novel, and I was way too close to it. I no longer felt confident that I could tell which bits worked and which didn’t.
When I began, it was because I wanted to see if I could actually write a whole novel. It was an amateur undertaking, a bit of fun. By the time I finished, I wasn’t sure what I’d come up with. Now I know this has potential – it’s a ‘proper novel’ as one reader put it. But it’s not the best novel it could be. Not yet.
This feels like the point I move from writing fiction as a hobby, to becoming a ‘proper’ writer. I’m lucky enough to have editorial critiques from professionals who know what they’re talking about. I’ve organised my life to enable me to spend daylight hours on fiction, as well as journalism. I have requests to submit my next draft to some serious, respectable literary types.
Which is why novels two and three are on hold. Unlawful Things needs another draft – and this time I feel like I know what I’m doing.