There’s an incredibly strange bunch of feelings that goes along with finishing a manuscript.
You’d think euphoria would be right there at the top. And for five glorious seconds, it is. You’ve succeeded! You’ve chased out all your demons, inner editors and naysayers, and you’ve Written A Book. You do a happy dance.
Then you remember the old adage, coined by Ernest Hemingway – “The only kind of writing is rewriting.” The euphoria begins to dissipate rapidly. To be replaced by the knowledge that there is a long, hard slog still to come.
Especially because I’m writing a three book set, I will be rewriting the first one at least twice more – once when the draft for the second book is written, and then again when the draft for the third book is written. Why? Because I’ll end up writing things about the characters from the first and second novels into the third that I’ll need to weave back into the first and second books.
Then, I’ll probably need to consider a further rewrite, to iron out things that bug me – words that don’t fit, phrases that aren’t quite right, that sort of thing.
During all this time, bits of the manuscript will be going to a critique group – a group of other writers who are there especially to point out things that bug them. These people help the writer to craft a novel that’s going to appeal – usually writers themselves, they have the know how on character development, plot structure and word choice.
So, then it goes to the publisher, right? Wrong!! Then it goes in for professional editing. Again, to smooth out rough bits, make sure the story reads right, and to fix grammatical errors and spelling mistakes.
One more stop before it is pitched to the publisher – beta-readers. These amazing people donate their time to read the book. They are the litmus test. They are not looking for grammar or spelling or story structure or character development. All they are looking for is a Bloody Good Read.
Once it gets the tick of approval from the beta-readers, then and only then will the manuscript be peddled to the publishers, or indie (self) published. And that opens up a whole other set of stuff that will need to be done – artwork for the book cover, formatting in multiple different ways for multiple different online reading platforms, promotion, marketing…
But despite all that, there’s still an underlying sense of chuffedness. Because, when all is said and done, you’ve done it. You’ve Written a Book.
And that’s all that your heart ever desired.