The proof copy is back from the printers and I am editing – once again. I started writing The Fulcrum in 2016 and it was the first novel I’d ever attempted to start with the aim of completing it.*
2016 was a long time ago in new novelist terms. A lifetime ago.
Apart from everything that happened in the world since then, I wasn’t confident in my writing, was new to character, overwhelmed by how to write a whole story, and totally intimidated by the fact that I had to ‘find my voice’, whatever that meant.
It’s been a steep learning curve.
Over the last six years I’ve come to see ‘voice’ like an equation of sorts: the author’s peculiarity of personality + the confidence to express that + some skill to write that expression = voice. What I wrote six years ago has needed swathes of editing to weed out lack of confidence and ease some real clunky sentences and story progression into something readable. And, my god, it has needed a lot of work. And, my god, how often all this editing has left me feeling like an idiot and a Very Poor Writer.
But then the other day, I saw a Terry Pratchett quote that delighted me quite a lot and helped to frame the process.
‘The first draft is just you telling yourself the story’ – Terry Pratchett
Everything else is to tell the story to everyone else.
If I’d known just how far I was from completion after I’d finished my first draft, if I’d been aware that all I’d done was tell myself the story, I think I might’ve had an easier time of it. Instead, every read-through felt like an insult to my expectations of myself. In the words of the inimitable Oprah Winfrey, ‘There’s a mistake and There’s a mistake and There’s a mistake!’
At least I’m enough of a sub to my creative energy that I took the sting of the thwack and vokked voort**, as the Afrikaaners say.
As I sit with the final FINAL reallyseriouslythelastfinal edits of The Fulcrum, and as I make them in the actual hard copy, seeing the final product that other people will hold in their hands, I’m supremely aware of how far this book has come from that first draft, where I told the story to myself, and everything that has happened to bring me here, to where I can finally share the story with other people.
All the kicking, all the screaming, all the tears and whining and pain about research and not knowing, and agent and publisher rejections, all the weeboo weeboo about not getting reach as a self-published author…
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I never thought I could love this as much as I do. The writing process, my book as an actual object, the story. And I love the story. I don’t know why it chose me, but it did. And I’m glad it did. I just hope that I did it justice.
With just one more edit, I’m sure I almost will.
PS I’m printing about 50 copies, which is either too little or way too much. But either way, if you’d like a copy, drop me a mail and I’ll set one aside for you.
*I did warn you that until The Fulcrum is DONE done, I only ever really want to word purge about it on the blog.
** Literally, ‘fucked forwards’; in my meaning, ‘fucked off into the headwinds, into the fray, fuck you I won’t do what you tell me’