I’ve never been the patient type. I tend to be someone who knows what she wants, obsesses a bit, thinks a bit and then chases something until she’s got it. Sometimes that works out (I met my husband using that kind of logic and we’ve been together twenty years next year!), and sometimes it results in things mouldering in my wardrobe that I know I’ll never actually wear.
Editing Far From the Tree has belatedly taught me to hold my horses and just flipping well slow down a bit. Cue all sorts of cliches about Rome, good things and patience. It’s still hard, though! There’s a bit of me that’s still SO EXCITED about the fact I’ve written a novel, that I just want to get it the heck out there and get people reading it, so they’ll have as much fun experiencing Little Somerby as I have. And then there’s the bit of me (the admittedly much quieter little voice) that keeps saying ‘go steady, keep editing and make it as good as it can be.’
I’m currently two thirds of the way through the hard copy edit of the draft, and I’ve already started to enlist willing test readers, who I’ve instructed to be picky and brutal with the version they’ll get. I’m lucky in that I have good friends who are enthusiastic about books (some of those I’ve asked to read the test version are from the group of mums I met through having my two children, and we’ve since formed a Wine -er- Book Club) and others are from my department at school, which just happens to be English, so I know the story will be in more than capable hands. But still I have to wait, take my time and send it out when it’s ready. That’s REALLY HARD!
And when my test readers come back to me, and I’ve performed the necessary tweaks to the novel, I then have to make sure my query letter is pitch perfect, my synopsis is spot on and I know exactly which agents I’m going to send it to. Two out of three of those things I’m already working on, and the third will come when I’ve spent some more time on the Writers and Artists Yearbook website. So there’s lots to do before I’m ready to submit, even though sometimes I feel like I’ve done the hard work. I know it will all be worth it in the end, and as I visualise the sweetly optimistic success of turning my spare room into a study, working from home and being able to pay for the extension to the house that would make it completely perfect with the three book deal I’m absolutely certain to get, I have to keep reminding myself that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. And yes, I know that’s pure pie in the sky thinking, but aiming high is what’s got me to this point, so why not keep doing so? I do actually believe that I can do this; let’s hope the publishing world will feel the same when I do, eventually, get Far From the Tree out into the world.