Thursday, 3 June 2010

Nine months later ...

... and exactly the right amount of time since my last post, because I have just delivered the manuscript of my second novel to my agent.

The process hasn't been painless, but what birth is?

But the most important thing I've discovered is that a story can be told in many different ways without its heart getting lost or its soul fragmented. This novel has been through several drafts (all quite different) but the story at its heart has grown stronger each time. In fact my trouble is that I fail to get to the heart of the matter quickly enough. I circle round it but fail to find the courage to dive in until the very last minute. I love words so much that I let them lead me where they will instead of heading (wrong word, hearting) for the heart of the piece as early as I can.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.
And he's so right ... my agent, the wonderful
Heather Holden-Brown suggested, when I delivered the second draft in the middle of April, that she still didn't care enough for my protagonist. It was only when I went where my protagonist went with my own heart, when I cried and laughed with her as I wrote, that I got there ... no surprise, of course, but it is the thing I avoid doing because it means I must feel too ... aren't we strange creatures? The very thing I need to do to make the novel work is the very thing I avoid doing until I absolutely have to ... so frightening, sometimes, these things called feelings.

The novel, by the way, is called WRITTEN in WATER now (adapted from John Keats's epitaph for himself and suggested by a friend). And it was sent out to publishers on Tuesday. So now we (my agent and I) wait to see who'd like to publish it ... nerve-wracking and exciting all at the same time.