Monday, August 3, 2009

Standing at the base of the mountain...

So, last week, just before I got hit by the dreaded Pig Disease, the readers and editorial reports for my next book dropped into my inbox, along with a frighteningly imminent deadline (Douglas Adams on Deadlines: "I love deadlines. I really like the 'whooshing' noise they make as they go past".)

This is always something of a good/bad moment, for me.

On the one hand, it's a sure sign that the end is in sight. Just two or three, or twenty or thirty rewrites, and then the book is done.

On the other hand, it's almost always the precursor to a bucketload of extra work.

These ones were particularly scary, though, because for the first time ever they were based on the first draft of my book. Up until now I've never showed my first draft to anyone. Not my family, not my editor, and certainly not an outside reader.

My reason for this? First drafts are, inevitably, crap. Mine especially. Word repetition, passive expression, repetition of phrases and ideas, redundant description, over-long sequences, set-piece cliches - you name it, my first drafts have it. They're awful.

But this time, we're on a deadline. So I had to bite the bullet, finish the draft, and send it off.

Even scarier - this one was for the final book in my Darklands trilogy, and so there was additional pressure. I know for a fact that some people (four, at last count) actually read and enjoyed the first two books in the series, and so this one has to live up. (Actually, that's a weird thing in itself - having to produce the final book of a series that's already out there. I know a lot of other writers do it all the time, but it was a first for me, and it scared the hell out of me. I'm not sure I'd ever do it again, to be honest. I can't believe J.K.Rowling managed to produce seven of the damn things with the whole world watching her. I take my hat off in admiration to her for that. But anyway...)

So I wrote it, sent it off to the nice people at UQP and, about a fortnight ago, I got my editorial reports which I opened with trembling (metaphorical, because the actual reports were emailed) hands, fully expecting something along the following lines:

Reader's Report on Dayward by Anthony Eaton.

Well, first off, what a letdown. I can't believe I wasted seven years waiting for this piece of....

...Luckily for me, the actual reports didn't live down to expectations. In fact, they were overwhelmingly positive, which is nice, given that I'm one of those writers who hates everything I've ever written until at least a hundred people or so manage to convince me otherwise. And even then I don't really believe them. 

Of course, I've still got a complete bucketload of work to do. (I wasn't kidding about the quality of my first drafts - I have all the above mentioned problems to address, plus several others I hadn't thought of. All by August 17th.) But at least I'm feeling positive about the book, now, which makes a huge difference.

So thanks to Kristina (editor extraordinaire) and my mystery reader, whoever you are. I've read the reports, thought about them, taken in the comments, printed out a MSS to work on, bought myself a new red editing pen, and marked off my afternoons for the next two weeks.

All I have to do now is actually start working on it.




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