The ms is delivered . . .

With a dull thud, the finished first draft lands on the kitchen table, all 272 pages of it.  On the one hand, it’s an enormous relief, and a definite joy, but on the other hand it’s an empty space in my heart.  I could feel the vacuum encroaching as I developed the ‘last’ scene which extended into 2000 words (most of my scenes have been about a thousand, for a day’s work of writing).  Even special titivating to make the ms pretty to look at, and then careful printing of the whole thing, to fit neatly into a nice white heavy cardboard box, did not assuage this emerging tristesse.

Although the recriminations are as near as my pillow, I did have another little epiphany as I reflected over the entire effort.  I’ve been trying to interpolate stories after stories, in a variety of styles, into the novel, and the ms has utilised some ageing literary devices.  In particular, one we encountered in Writing Group is one that Charles Dickens used to great effect: : the rule of threes.  Without giving too much away to my beta readers, I realised that, unconsciously, I had incorporated a double set of threes into the whole,  which may or may not be felicitous.  Meanwhile, I’m still totally in love with the concept that you can tell a story in such a vast array of styles.

Anyway, after setting the printer away, I did manage to finish another heavy gardening job, which involved picking up all the scattered twigs from my hedge trimming exercises.  I’d started that tidying effort with a rake and heavy gloves, but I found the constant bending over was just too challenging.  So yesterday afternoon, in a prayerful approach to the task, I picked up all the remaining twigs on my hands and knees.  No bending over when you’re already on the ground!  So that was a lovely, if humble, finish to the working day.

And then, for my personal relaxation, thanks to the kindness of our dear neighbour, I revisited the new Dune DVD, and I was able to listen carefully to the development of the story.  Such a lovely recapitulation of the first of those beloved books.

And so my cup was filled, yesterday, even as the excess spilled over and ran down the sides of the goblet like so many wanton tears.  

A new project will emerge soon enough, and there’s the nervy excitement of waiting for the beta judgements to come, anyway.  

3 responses to “The ms is delivered . . .”

  1. I watched the new Dune on the plane to see our daughter in Dubai much better than the David Lynch version sadly


  2. Dear Larry, My British classmate, of late (30 yr?), In college I always thought you must have come from a distinctly British Province so it’s not a difficult mental shift to make. Between you & British TV I must sometimes consult a dictionary. Titivating? Despite my 3 years of Latin I was unable to even guess at a meaning. Tristesse? You threw in a bit of a challenge nto the mix for me with a French word. The definition of Tristesse made me think of the tone of that Terry Jacks song, “Seasons In The Sun”. Via your blog you have often caused me to reflect. No mean task at 7:00 AM.

    Congratulations on reaching the finish line. Does your novel now go to an editor or editors? I suspect that having review by someone who is not emotionally attached to the work could be helpful. However, as some say, your process is a bit out of my wheelhouse.

    Wishing you well as you move forward with your novel.


  3. The process of getting the book to market is a morass, to be honest. I could try to go down the traditional route: secure an agent, who may or may not find a publisher. I tried that with my first effort, got precisely nowhere. Then thanks to publicly available advice from I embarked on the odyssey of self-publishing (the more apposite term these days is ‘independent publishing’ since it’s not a vanity press, as such, but it’s on the Amazon/Kindle bandwagon. There the struggling author joins milllions of other aspirants and the book gets lost in the torrent. There is, apparently, a prescribed route to some sort of potential success: offer your completed book to for reviews; acquire at least a couple dozen glowing references thereby; offer the book with its attendant requisite reviews to for promotion. Now some £1000 poorer, sit back and wait for the return, if any. Meantime, with the review process finished, you can go exclusive with Amazon/Kindle and be included in on their eBook freeby which means that you get paid on a pages read basis. The cfhallenge of thjis route is that the waiting time for the review slot, for the specific genre that my book tries to hit (ie, so-called ‘hard’ science fiction) is 18 months. I booked my slot in about November of 2020 when this novel wasn’t more than an idea. This is why I’ve been so antsy about finishing something for the reviewers.
    Now, with the first draft done, I have about a month before the polished version must be available for review. So that’s my job for the next few weeks, to get things polished and uploaded onto the Amazon platform and ready. It really is quite an odyssey but even just the satiswfaction of finishing is something!


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