The other day I experienced something entirely new as a writer. I finished writing a book. And by finished, I mean, that’s it. No more editing, no more adding scenes or taking away. Done. Ready to publish.
The book is Oak and Mist, of course. The first in my series of six books about Ambeth, and a girl from this world who finds her life inextricably linked with that magical realm. The story is one I still enjoy reading, no matter how many times I go over it, so I hope other readers will feel the same way.
It’s quite an unusual feeling to be finished, after tinkering away on it for two years now. I must have read and made changes to it close to a hundred times by now, but this final edit, the professional one, is the one that has made the difference. The language is clear, the story flows and I know that if I mess with it any more I’ll just be gilding the lily. So it is done.
In one of my original blogs I wrote about stories emerging from the forest floor, gleaming carapaces of fossilised bone. I had to clear the dirt from them, brushing the crevices, honing and polishing until they were free of the earth. And so now it’s as though I hold one in my hands, unutterably precious and delicate. It’s a wonderful feeling and, now that I’ve experienced it, I’ll be able to access it again for the next five books in the series. (and then all the other non-Ambeth ideas I have waiting after that).
Now I need to get going on book 2. The title is No Quarter, and, when I started reading through it last night I could see immediately there’s a lot to be done before it’s ready to send out for editing.
So that’s another lesson learned, on my journey to Ambeth. That as writers we must keep chipping away until we reach the very heart of things. Extraneous words, extra scenes and fancy description can often detract, rather than add to the story. I still have a way to go, but I do feel as though I have a much better understanding of that now.
And so I keep digging…