So I thought I’d write a little update about how my book is progressing. Is that interesting? Probably not. I haven’t talked too much about it because it felt a bit braggy, but then I thought about how interested I am in the process of writing books and thought it might be worth a post. It’s about all I’ve had time to think about beyond daily life anyway. There’s been no time for anything more interesting, nor has there been time for things I should know more about, such as the ripple effects of Brexit or why Trump hired people to wee on a bed in Russia etc.
Publishing is something I knew nothing about, and now I know a little. So there’s that I suppose. It’s been a bit of a learning curve, or perhaps more of a zig zag that a curve, because there are moments of sheer joy and then there are moments of ohmygodwhatthehellamidoingican’twritethisbookisterribleeveryonewillthinki’mridiculousishoulddosomegardeningandmilkthecows. And other associated panics.
Anyway, even if you’re not interested, here is My Book Progress, for the record.
I have written five drafts now. (Actually I think there were more but I’m not counting the drafts I wrote before I was brave enough to show anyone.) I’ve done two very major rewrites which at times felt endless and impossible. There were days when my bottom actually refused to stay on the seat and claimed to prefer stomping up and down those awful Mt Nelson stairs until it ached. But somehow, in the end, I managed to convince my bottom to stay on the chair long enough to meet deadline.
Shortly after the latest draft was submitted, my commissioning editor announced she was leaving Australia for good. She was the gorgeous woman I worked closely with to get the book from it’s messy early drafts to a manuscript that had less words, less plot-holes, better structure and less poos and wees. She cleaned it up and made it better. She also knew it inside out, championed it, loved it. And for that I loved her. When she said that she was leaving I had the horrible sensation that the dream might very well be over before it began. I did a bit of tortured artist thrashing. If I had a garret I would have wailed from its windows.
But then the lovely people at Penguin Random House assured me that all would be well, that all the team were behind my book and that I should press on with work while they sorted out a new editor. So I got on with the beginning of the second book I am contracted to write, and hoped for the best.
Skip ahead a bit to last week, when I met my new editor, Ali. She took me out to dinner (Ti Ama, Castray Esplanade, grooviest pizza place ever) and did a wonderful job of listening to me prattle on nervously about all sorts of things and not running away into the night or moving permanently to England. She is lovely. And she spoke about the book in such loving ways. It is Really Something to hear someone talk about one’s characters with proper inside-out knowledge. They might have all filed in and joined us at the table. It means so much.
We talked about the title, which still hasn’t been finalised, but nearly (promise to share when it is). We talked about release dates; at this stage it looks like it’ll be April next year. This seems so far away but there is still lots to do. We talked a bit about the cover design, which is so much fun but triggered a couple of broken night’s sleep in which I visualised all sorts of wild covers and titles. In the end I had to get up and start a Pinterest page to stop my whirring brain and by morning time my thoughts had gone full circle. (If you feel like it, tell me what sort of covers and titles attract you the most, I’d love to know).
And now, in my inbox, is the full line edit of the fifth draft. The line edit is when a very clever person who reads your manuscript and who line for line examines the way you use language to communicate story. I think my line edit may go beyond this because there’s still a bit of character develpment to do etc, but either way, I am so excited to get into this point because it’s the really pointy point of book writing. The big, painful rewrites are over. And the idea of a ‘proof copy’ is not just a vague and distant notion but just—all going well—around the corner.
The feeling is a bit like when you first fall in love. The world looks lovlier, things seem more meaningful and vibrant and inspiring. All your people seem more dear. Yesterday I walked up the hill and looked over our town and listened to some opera and marvelled at a stick with lichen on it and cried a few tears just because they seemed to fit the occasion. And then there are the panicky moments, also like the early stages of love, when you worry it might not be as wonderful as you hope, and there might be a nasty rejection, or at least a little fall, at the end of the fantasy. Your emotions are closer to the surface and you snap at people more easily. Sometimes you imagine a faint pain in your chest or a throb deep in your head and you worry about what will happen to the book if you die. I know. Ridiculous. Self centred. Weird. I’m not saving the world with this book for goodness sake.
In the midst of all this, while I was holidaying in New Zealand, I received an email from my gorgeous literary agent Fiona to say that she has found me an agent in America!!!! This means the book will be spruiked over there, by a woman who knows her publishing onions as well as people in the right places. This is beyond exciting. I don’t dare think about it too much for fear of putting on the mockers etc. But !!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So, I’ll stop rabbiting on now and summarise:
Book 1 (comedy fiction, written as a diary, nearly has a title but not quite) is almost done and will probably have its Australian release in April. Possibly, all going well, in the US at some stage next year too.
Book 2 (at this stage I think it’s book two but early doors) is about 12,000 words in. It’s not a sequel to book one but quite a different story. Still comedy fiction but written in the third person which is Such Fun after wallowing in the first person for years.
And that’s all for now. I’m sorry for extended megoracle silence. I keep saying that but I am. Lots of love xxx
Well done Meg for all your hard work, can’t wait to read your book when it comes out. xx
So proud and excited for you, Meg. You are hugely talented and deserve every success. Thanks for the update xx
Well done Meg, I’m so excited for you!
Can’t wait to get it on my kindle!
Thanks Marguerite – me neither!
Hi, Meg – just saw your story on ‘Landline’ and it’s terrific to see you go for it. One question: I’ve got two books stuck in my robot plus a third that was a co-written affair, and I can’t get an agent to even look at any of it. I know it’s bloody good 🙂 how do you combat the constant ‘no thanks’ without them even looking at it?
Hello Jo, It’s the perennial problem. My best advice is that you find a reader who might have some clout – a published author perhaps, who might be happy to read it for you and then pass on your name to an agent of publisher. Or ony contacts in publishing. This can double as a proof reading exercise – another pair of eyes is always good before you try the publishers or agents. Also, have a good think about what’s already out there and how your work might stand out. But as I said, I was terribly, wonderfully lucky. Best wishes and don’t give up! Meg