The End of the Beginning or, The Beginning of the End

Brazil's Luiz cries after his team lost to Germany in their 2014 World Cup semi-finals at the Mineirao stadium in Belo HorizonteThe first draft of the next novel, Blind Faith, is finally finished. This sort of news could even cheer up a Brazilian this morning but you need to calm down. It’s only the end of the first draft. In my experience, the other books have taken four drafts to get right so maybe it’s not even halfway.

It feels tighter than its predecessors but I suppose they all do until you lift your head once more into reality and then plunge back in with a new breath. The embryonic story is delicately being pigeoned to the beta-readers and I await their feedback, like an expectant gladiator looking up at Caesar.

This story has already taken a complete re-write and I’ve also re-written the ending of the re-written bit. It’s gone back to the drawing board so many times that the architect is getting a restraining order put on me. I don’t know where I am with it anymore. I think it hangs together but now is the test.

The beta-readers were gentle to begin with. On my first novel they merely patted me on the head like a lost puppy and were overwhelmed simply by realising that I could string a sentence together. On the second novel, the feedback was abrupt and more constructive, with certain individuals demanding total cuttings of scenes. But this time around I’m ready to curl up into the foetal position and expect the worst.

After three full-length novels I can definitely call myself a writer. I’m not as sensitive to the selection of words I use anymore. They flow from my fingers on to this worn keyboard like water over a brook. I’m not even that arsed by the story either. I know that a story’s a story. I’ve got more in me and I know I’ll write different stories at different times and some will be better than others.

This is now a business. I’m not as precious about talent, and inspiration, and pontificating about the pretentiousness of it all. Those things are pretty much there to distract the author from just accepting that they’re shitting themselves. I’m not too worried anymore.

Obviously, that doesn’t mean that I’d now enjoy hearing negative criticism but I don’t think I’d be so fragile if I did. But hey, this is the end of my first draft, no one’s read it yet, it’s brilliant, it’s the best thing I’ve ever written, it’s the best thing that anyone’s ever written, there won’t be any changes because what could possibly improve perfection. Ah, the end of the first draft, the last point in time when my baby is all for me.

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4 responses to “The End of the Beginning or, The Beginning of the End

  1. Michael, thanks for sharing! I’m your follower and read all your posts to find strength and motivation to struggle further along the path of the writer. I’m aspiring Russian writer, wanna be self-published and so on. 🙂

    Can you give me a hint on how you got your beta-readers? Cause I will need some in the near future and have no clue where to find them (except for my biased friends, I suppose).

    And don’t you worry they can put your draft somewhere on the forums, torrent trackers, etc.?

    Good luck with your book!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Alex. I was extremely fortunate with regards to my beta readers. They’re all friends who have been linked to publishing, editing, or literature in the past and are happy to do it for me. They’re objective enough and I try to make it as easy as possible for them to be critical. I want them to say what’s bad about it, not the other way round, so I try and pull the real criticism out. Try your friends, and give them a clear brief on what you expect. Remember, you want them to throw stones at it.

  2. Thank you, Michael, for your answer and tips.

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