My editor delivered my edits to me at the beginning of May. I was really nervous when I opened the email because I had no idea what to expect. A dozen thoughts went through my head as I clicked ‘open’ on her email not least ‘what if she hates the ending?’ and ‘what if she wants me to basically rewrite the whole thing?’
I needn’t have worried, there were no scary surprises in store. Mostly I need to work on upping the pace, and I have to tweak the ending slightly, and build in a few bits and bobs to do with the main character, but that’s about it really. It still involves me going through the book carefully and thoughtfully and making the book the best book I can make it, so why have I only scratched the surface of my edit?
Because I can’t get my second psychological thriller out of my head.
Back in January I started a 100,000 word in 100 days writing challenge set up by writer Sally Quilford. The timing was perfect. ‘The Accident’ was out on submission with UK editors and I needed to focus my mind on writing a new book, not least to stop myself from clicking refresh in my inbox a thousand times a day.
There was just one problem – unlike ‘The Accident’ which I plotted in detail so I could write it in 45 minutes snatches (while my baby napped) when I was on maternity leave – I had no idea what was going to happen in ‘Last Girl Standing’. I knew where I wanted to set the novel, I knew the themes I wanted to explore, and I knew it was about four female friends, jealousy, deception and murder but that was about it. Unlike all my previous novels (including the romantic comedies) I didn’t even know how it began.
Starting it was painful, the words didn’t flow but, if i wanted to meet the 100k challenge by 10th April I had to force myself to write 1000 words a day, no matter what. After the first week I was 7000 words in and still not sure where I was going. By 20000 I felt a bit more confident, and the words started to flow, then I got stuck again and had to have a think about where to go next before I could continue. That thinking took 2 or 3 days and meant I fell behind schedule and had to write double to catch up.
April 10th finally arrived and I’d completely the challenge! 80,000 words of (unfinished) ‘Last Girl Standing’ and 20,000 words of short stories. I was pleased to have completed the challenge but also utterly knackered. I decided to give myself some time off until my edits appeared (my book deal with Avon HarperCollins was signed during the last week of the challenge) but I couldn’t shake the feeling I had unfinished business with ‘Last Girl Standing’. It didn’t have an ending for a start and I knew the beginning was wrong.
That novel has been bothering and bugging me for the last 6 weeks. I’ve been thinking about it all the time – before bed, upon wakening, in the shower, on the walk to work, in the supermarket, when I’m reading other books.
So much so that I haven’t been able to give ‘The Accident’ edits my full attention (sorry Lydia!) but then earlier this week something happened. I had an idea and suddenly everything fell into place. I knew exactly how ‘Last Girl Standing’ needs to end. Not with a KAPOOM twist but with something subtle, neat and (I hope) a tiny bit clever.
And I can’t wait to write it.
But ‘The Accident’ is still waiting. It needs to be edited and, now I’ve mentally fixed what was wrong with ‘Last Girl Standing’, I can give it my full attention.
I’ve got two days off work next week when my son will be with his childminder. If you spot me on Twitter or Facebook on Tuesday or Wednesday next week you have my permission to kick my arse hard!