I completed a novel

I finished editing my novel today after completing a first draft in mid-October. This is the first time I’ve reached this point with a book. It’s final at 58,000 words. Agent queries will start in the next few weeks.

The Ooning is no more. I made the decision to stop working on it in November after some pretty desperate soul-searching. Eventually, I had to be honest: I didn’t believe in it as a piece of work representative of my ambition or ability. I completely rewrote it over two major edits in 2012 and 2013, but it was “no good.” Some of the characterisation needed serious work and, regardless, I felt uncomfortable about trying to push a story for publication. I wrote the first draft ten years ago. I’m not that person. I don’t write narrative anymore. The Ooning wasn’t something I’d ever read. Logic, therefore, dictated that I needed to move on. It was a hard decision, but I just didn’t like it and nor would I ever. I invested many hundreds of hours in that book, but I had some good advice on how to deal with it mentally; none of it was wasted in terms of experience.

While it was tough at the time, I have no regrets about concentrating on the new project. The first draft flowed out in a way I’ve never experienced before with fiction, and I never felt a strong struggle with the editing process. The work reminded me of photo processing, especially on film. Any photographer will tell you how much easier it is to post-produce a properly exposed negative. Editing rough shots can be a nightmare and the end result will nearly always be compromised. I put down 60,000 words in three months late last year and it felt like walking. Editing, similarly, was enjoyable. Working on The Ooning was arduous, and in the end I realised I just didn’t want to do it. A valuable lesson, even if learning it produced some unpleasant head-in-hands moments.

I’m very pleased. The new book, I feel, represents a significant personal milestone. I wrote it, I edited it, I completed it and I’m happy with it, and now I can move directly onto prep for the third novel. I started notes over Christmas. My ideas are continuing to coagulate but the trend’s visible and I should have no problem putting it out this year.

I will not stop.


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