Thursday, 1 November 2012

At the top of the scree slope

If you've been paying any attention to my blog in recent months, you'll have noticed me banging on about the second draft of my novel. And how I intended to finish by the end of the summer. Or at least by the time I went to the Festival of Writing in York.

Well I didn't manage it. Of course, I didn't. My life is just too busy for that. But going to the Festival of Writing was so inspirational that, once I returned, I was possessed by a manic energy to race to the top of my particular novel mountain. For the whole of September, and most of October, despite an absolutely crazy workload and busy family life, I've been getting up at 6, and sometimes working to 11 just to revise , add to the word count and generally beat the book in submission. For several weeks this was an absolute exhiliarating joy. The kind of joy you get, when the air is in your lungs, the sky is blue, the breeze pleasant and the sun warms you on your way. I strode the slopes with energy, verve, each day finishing with me looking forward to the next

But as I began to near the end of my goal, with only a few chapters to go, I hit a nerve wracking scree slope. For every step up, I slid three down. The sun went behind a cloud, the wind whipped up, no longer exhiliarating but cold and hard. I was bone tired, and desperate to stop, but I knew that if I did, I might never start up again. Inch, by inch, I clambered over sharp pointy stones, now forward, now back, some days stuck at the same point, paralysed by the effort. Until, at last, this time last week, I found myself inches away from the ridge. There was half a chapter left and it literally raced off my fingers and on to a screen. And for the time being I was done.

The view from here is rather satisfying. I've printed my second draft off, satisfyingly twice the size of the feeble first draft I finished last year. I've read it twice, and though there are still places where the language makes me wince, where I've lost my thread, where I've been inconsistent, it's beginning to take the shape I want it to.

I'll be off again in a minute, pushing myself through a third draft which will no doubt be as painful as the last two. But I can see the summit now, and I know, without a doubt, that I can reach it. And after eight years, I can tell you, that's quite a sight.