This week marked a slightly different phase in the journey of Far From the Tree. I finished the hard copy edit on Monday, and after inputting all of the changes into Scrivener, I was left with a draft of a little over 121,000 words, having managed to lose about 4,000 during the edit. I’m satisfied that this is as low as I can go for now, barring the services of a publishing house, which will, hopefully, come some time in the next year when I get my book deal. With all of the changes made, I took a deep breath and sent it out to my group of test readers.
Early signs are encouraging – I’ve received some nice texts and messages as my new readers work their way through the novel, and while all of them are people I know, like and love, (and who, hopefully feel some of the same ways about me!!), I am confident that I will get some honest feedback. This has gone some way to allaying the sudden, rather unfamiliar sensations of self-doubt that have hit me over the past few days. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not shaking in a corner somewhere, but I have felt a slight prickle of unease. Not because I don’t think I’ve written a good story; I know it’s the best I could possibly have done, at this time in my life, but because handing the story over to other readers after keeping it mostly to myself for nine months is like handing over your newborn child for the first time. It’s as if I’m saying ‘here…take a look at the contents of my head and let me know if you think I’m a total fruit loop, or, worse, a crap writer!’
I am, of course, being a tad disingenuous here. Someone else has read Far From the Tree; my wonderful proof reader, Vicky, who gave me lovely feedback (as well as being absolutely eagle eyed in terms of continuity and typos!), so I know that it works as a story for at least one other person, and a person who has proof read professionally, at that. She’s also got a fondness, as I have, for the novels of Katie Fforde, which definitely helps, as Fforde is certainly a writer I’d aspire to. And the book got the right emotional responses from her in the right places, which is another extremely helpful sign :). So it’s not as if no-one’s seen the story until now. But handing it over to actual, proper readers, whose expectations will be for a story that is polished and narratively coherent, and who will not be reading it to correct stuff…that does make me a bit nervous. I wonder if I’ll be feeling the same way when I see hard copies of the book on the supermarket shelves a year from now?!
For now, as with so much to do with writing and publishing, I have to wait. There’s nothing more to do until the test readers come back to me with their verdict, except think about how the heck I’m going to start the next one on November 1st. Yes, book 2 of the Little Somerby Series will be starting as a NaNoWriMo project! Oh, and mess about with my new Pinterest account, of course! Now that is something I can kill time with – from visuals of characters and places to the minutiae of costume and props, Pinterest is turning out to be quite addictive, and, hopefully, it will drive some more traffic this way from potential readers :). If anyone wants to see the Far From the Tree board in progress, it’s here:
For now, though, I’m contemplating Book 2, trying not to bite my nails too much, and filling up Pinterest with some very pretty things. Wish me luck!