As my fan base will know, I’m currently working on my second fantasy novel: ‘The Dark Shores’. When I first conceived of the idea, it was 2006, a year after ‘A Wizard’s Tears’ had been finished and released. Now, here we are in 2012, 6 years later, and where is my second novel? It’s sitting inside of a 2nd draft, with scribbles and red marks all over it.
I’d like to put a timescale on myself. I’d like to say I’ll finish the 2nd draft this year and it’ll be released next. I used to do this – impose the power of time onto my work. Eventually, I just have to finish it, get it out there. I mean, I suppose, I could release it now, in 1st draft form. I finished it last year – so why am I still tinkering around with it, editing pages, deleting passages, adding new passages (even chapters) into it?
I’ve learned a lot from the days of ‘A Wizard’s Tears’. I’m proud of that first novel; but it’s exactly that – a debut, a dipping of a toe in the writer’s pond, just to see what I could achieve. And it’s achieved more than I thought it could, and I’m glad to have gotten the ‘first one’ out there, for people to read. But looking back at it now, I’d have written it differently. I’d have written it better. I like certain passages of the book, I do, and there’s a lot of hidden depth and meaning in its pages, which is something I like to do – put in layers, so to speak. But there are bits of it that make me cringe (cue the unwieldy sex scene for one example), and it’s definitely rushed at the end, as if in the dying moments of writing it, I just wanted the darn thing done because I’d spent years on it.
All different now. I’m not going to release ‘The Dark Shores’ until I’m happy with it; until I’ve poured in every possible atom of love and spirit that I possess into it. It will make it a better book. It will make it a longer book, without a rushed ending. It will have better characters, and better scenes. It will be me.
I think it is very important to write a 1st draft, just organically, just get the words down, hap-hazardly, paragraph by paragraph. The story is there. It’s out. It’s on the page. Then it’s important to refine, to go through it, to look for words that aren’t needed, to cross out those silly adverbs or repeated words (goodness, just how many times had I used the word ‘murmur’ in ‘A Wizard’s Tears’?!) It needs to be proof-read, and given to others to proof-read it also, and honed, and chiselled at, until it becomes that work of art it so wants to be, and what other people want it to be!
So, although I apologise to my fans for the delay of 6 years (although, incidentally, one or two of those years I’d barely written a word of the book due to other commitments – confound the full-time job!), it’ll be worth the wait. And even if the book doesn’t meet expectations, gets bad press/reviews, at least I will know it’s how I meant for it to be, and in my own opinion will be the best thing I could do at the time. That process, more than anything, is reward enough.