One Friday morning last autumn, sitting in a coffee shop, I finished tweaking the first three chapters of a book, attached them to an email, and hit send before I could chicken out. It felt good.
Well, for at least thirty seconds until I realised I’d sent it without checking for typos. The next big dilemma was whether or not to check retrospectively. I held off for about two hours, afraid of what I might find, then eventually saw sense – what if there was a typo and it was the nail in the horse’s foot that lost the battle or whatever that story was?
So I checked the chapters and found a typo and re-sent my email, and waited. A few days later, in a surreal moment I’ll never forget, I got the news that the publisher liked my idea and was offering me a book deal.
What followed was a rollercoaster of emotions, then months of non-stop writing – mornings, nights, weekends. I’ve literally taken just three days off since November. I cut corners and cancelled plans and scaled back freelance work and wrote late into the night every night, and finally, this week, it was done.
Well, I thought it was done, then my sister made a very valid point about the fate of one of my characters, so I did some more editing. But the editing has to stop eventually and today is the day. Today is my deadline and I’m sitting in the same coffee shop and I’ve pressed send – except this time I’ve checked for typos.
Next comes the waiting – the edge of seat, constant-email-checking waiting, to hear what the editor thinks and what changes I need to make. In the meantime, I’m taking the weekend off, and taking my cheerleaders out for ice-cream.
I will definitely bring the child who made me a book mark to use in my first copy of the book.
And I will absolutely bring the child who comes down every night to give me motivational speeches like “You’re going to nail this novel mum” – even if her most recent words of encouragement were “Hey, if it’s not successful now, I bet it will be a few hundred years after you’re dead mum.” Thanks.
And I will even bring the child who still answers “Cleaning the house” when I ask him what my job is, and who doesn’t believe you can write a book on a laptop, because it doesn’t look like a book at all. I can’t wait to show him a real book.