I am busy preparing a novel to submit to a publisher. I won’t say it’s on its final edit because I have a feeling, if it is accepted, the editors will send it back with huge sections to re-work – not because it isn’t good but because there will always be something that could be better.
As I sat the other day, thinking about the story, I realised it has come a very far way since its conception. I had intended for it to be a short story of about 5000 words and right now it is sitting just short of 50 000 (bear in mind it is a children’s novel). I never imagined it would grow into this full, textured adventure. In the process of its surprising growth, the story-world has evolved, my characters have changed names as they solidified themselves, my plot has twisted and turned to reach its conclusion – very little remains of that first idea.
Perhaps this is because I am a discovery writer and I tend to write things and then flesh them out but I think every writer does this to some degree. Whether we do it at the planning stage or after we’ve written a shallow version of it, we take that first idea and let it evolve into something more. That first idea is just a spark for a fire.
I have re-written this story many times (counting the edits) and each time I add more flesh to the bones. I sit now, working on the fifth major edit, and the manuscript is covered in red pen marks. As a younger writer that would have left me gutted but now it gets me excited - I know that each of those red marks is an improvement. Each edit will turn the story into a better piece of art. I just hope I never suffer from the idea that the work will never be finished and leave it hiding in my hard drive – that would be a waste.
At this stage of the story, which is so far removed from the ‘fun’ part of creating a story, I find myself even more in love with the craft of writing. This hard work makes it all real for me – that I’m not just playing world-building but I am practising being a writer. The sacrifices are not easy, the work is long and hard, but in the end I know I will hand over an exciting story that will captivate someone. And whoever that someone is, will appreciate that I never gave up.