Now I know you’ve all been agog to hear about progress with what it now referred to in our house as “the Worm”. Well, I won’t lie: it’s been a difficult week. On Monday I had comments back from my beta reader, and they were terrifically helpful – but they were also quite alarming. Most of them were relatively easy to address, but a couple of them literally (and I mean literally) gave me a sleepless night. My beta reader was of the view that the draft was (a) rather plodding, and (b) lacking in suspense. (The two are of course related.)
My beta reader also reads this blog, so Roy, I don’t want you to feel bad about this – after all, a good and above all honest beta reader is worth his weight in gold and exactly what I want. But it was upsetting – and I don’t want other readers of this blog to think that writing is always fun, and that somehow I am immune to the horrors and loss of confidence that visit every writer from time to time. So I had an evening of worry and too much chocolate, and a night of tossing and turning, trying to think of how to suspend Sam, and then decided that I just had to get on with it.
And so it was BIG rewrites for the rest of the week, along with reordering of chapters to create more suspense. I killed off one character and resuscitated another, and (this is a vast improvement, I think) worked much harder to create the links between all the parts of the plot. And the result is, I think, I hope, better. But now that I have read it all so many times, I have completely lost any sense of whether it is exciting and/or suspenseful – after all, nothing is at all surprising to me any more. So for the first time I am giving a pre-publication version to my husband to read. It’s risky, I know (if he doesn’t like it, he may be on iron rations into the next century), but I really do need someone fresh to say whether it’s a right rollicking read or a bit of a snore. Now I have to turn my attention back to the day job to earn a crust and so he has a week to read it: my next appointment with the Worm is (I hope) final edits next Saturday and then formatting next Sunday, so that I can get a final page count and create the template that the cover designer needs. Pass those chocolates – I need a refill.