Saturday, August 17, 2013



First draft to finished book

The first draft of book 5 in the Highland Gazette series is almost done, and publication of book 4, North Sea Requiem is three weeks away. The two events may even co-incide if I give up my almost non-existent social life.

Lead-in time from writing a novel to publication is long. To produce a book per year is a, necessarily, disciplined process - else you go doolally. I compare it to a pregnancy (when you can go doolally also) which medically is described in three trimesters. My writer's journey goes like this:

First three months of a calendar year is taken up with checking proofs and corrections of last year's book. Plus new book percolating. 

Next three months, first draft of new book (which may contain what you detailed in the synopsis --or not) and a traumatic, sleepless, process that can be. Wrestling with the demons of insecurity, tears dripping into the keyboard over the traumatic bits,  moments of utter joy, having your characters take over your life, neglecting friends and health in the real world, all of that and more is the lot of an author.
Then revise, edit, revise, edit until you can't stand the sight of the thing and send it of to the editor (who is a saint). If you had a propensity towards bi-polar disorder before becoming a writer, then writing the first draft of a book will be all too familiar.

Second draft; the manuscript comes back with a few pages of notes and comments marked up chapter by chapter. You despair. A few days pass. A few red wines are consumed. You re-read the notes. Ha! you didn't see the notes of encouragement --all you saw were the negatives, the quiet suggestions as to where it wasn't quite working. You sit down, go through the marked manuscript steadily, patiently, get to the end and another read-through from the editor. This can take three months, but hopefully less.

The final draft; time to let the sunshine in, a time to read the words aloud, to hear it, to smell it, to polish. And if you are very lucky, it sings to you - in parts.

Then it's off to the copy editor. The manuscript comes back, and again, time to work methodically, trying not to be too harsh,  because by this time it is mostly too late for big changes and by this time you are sick of the whole thing, and all you can see are the faults. But this makes you vow to do better  next time. And you start all over again!

When about to embark on the next book - mostly because you want to know what is happening in the community you created, and because to produce a better book than the last one, you forget the pain of producing the previous adventure -- much like giving birth.

So that is my year. And hopefully the next, and the next...

Aa' the best.

PS Watch out for North Sea Requiem from 3rd September available in the USA and Canada in multiple bookstores and online, the rest of the world via ebooks and online.