Saturday 27 August 2022

The End... Or is it? by Claire Fayers

 This week I typed those two words beloved of writers everywhere.

This book has probably taken the longest of all my books, except for my very first one when deadlines were only a thing I dreamed about. I started it three years ago, in 2019, needing something to fulfil the option clause of my publisher's contract so that I could move on. Honestly speaking, it was not the best motivation for writing a book.

I wrote some of it at the Scattered Author retreat at Folly Farm. And more of it at the Charney Manor retreat. My agent loved the idea, I liked the sci-fi humour, but the story never really sparked in my mind, not in the way some of my previous stories had.

My agent submitted the proposal. It was turned down. As it should have been, because really it was not my best work.

And yet, I persisted. Call it stubbornness, or maybe I just didn't have any better ideas to work on at the time and it was better to be writing something than nothing. I added characters, I took characters out, I changed the plot a hundred times. My agent - who has the patience of a saint - read I don't know how many drafts and outlines.

We went on submission again last spring. The draft had improved enough that I was hopeful, and I was delighted to get an offer from my top-choice publisher. Lockdown put everything on hold and it was the summer before I could meet my editor in person. By then it was so long since I'd read the draft I could barely remember what I'd written and my editor's enthusiasm made it feel like she was talking about someone else's book. I started to feel nervous. What if the book really wasn't any good? What if I'd come to the end of my ideas and my writing career was over?

Then there was a ten month wait until we were ready to start editing. My SCBWI critique group and writing friends deserve all the credit for getting me through that with their constant encouragement.

Then July 2021. I read through the old draft. I met my editor again, talked about ideas, and found myself catching some of her enthusiasm.

I opened my document titled: LATESTDRAFTWRITEINTHISONE.doc and started to read.

And something extraordinary happened.

I love this book! I love the characters, I love the worlds - all thousand and one of them. I love the jokes which only I will get. It took me three weeks to rewrite 53,000 words, the fastest I've ever written. (I literally did rewrite - I typed out every single word again, almost as if my previous draft had been 'draft zero' and this was the real one.)

I sent it off to my editor today and now I'm nervously waiting to see what she thinks. Hopefully she'll think she wants a sequel because I really want to write one.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is. Maybe that all books have their ups and downs. Definitely that author friends and organisations like the Scattered Authors are vital because this is hard and we all need to lean on one another. Or maybe I'm just feeling smugly triumphant that my brain can still come up with ideas. But if you've reached the point when you think your draft is the worst writing since writing was invented, you are not alone, and you are almost certainly wrong. Rewards await for those who persevere.

I'm off to eat cake.

Claire Fayers


Pippa Goodhart said...

Hooray! That was lovely for me to read as somebody who has fallen out of love with a story idea but also can't let it go. I'll battle onwards ... Thank you.

Penny Dolan said...

A fellow battler also impressed! Well done, Claire.

Nick Green said...

Sounds very similar to my experience over the past three years, with a book that refuses to get written. Maybe it was a lockdown thing? I stopped believing in the story and that's fatal. I hope that one day I can go back to it and resuscitate it!

Lynne Benton said...

Well done, Claire! Very impressed with your persistence - hope it does brilliantly!