While whacking out a story might seem like something easy to fill up some spare time, your first book soon takes on a life of its own. Your dreams of success, your eagerness to finish and your desperation for people to enjoy the story and characters you have crafted combine to turn the project into a bit of a beast.
Whether or not you have started on your book yet, these are some things that you will go through as you get to work and realize quite what you’re taking on.
1. You are already visualizing success
Crowds of baying fans saying ‘QUEEN’ or ‘KING’ at you after everything you tweet, pleas for you to sign bras and knickers (and books, you suppose) and reams and reams of forum speculation on what you meant by THAT line in your novel. This could all be you.
2. You research publishers and the publishing process before you contemplate starting work
You like to believe it’s all about the joy of writing but you have to consider the end game.
3. Your planning is intricate
You could probably have bashed out ten chapters in the time it took you to create a massive family tree, flow chart and color coded map. But you’re now ready to get down to it.
4. It’s exciting
The blank canvas of that empty word document awaiting your first words gives a thrill like no other. It’s time to make magic. Although not the Harry potter kind, that would just be plagiarism.
5. Your first chapter flows
Who the heck ever said that this was hard!?
6. You veer from your plan
Oh well, it still looked pretty. No regrets.
7. You set up your own writing station
Okay, this has really taken off. You need a proper environment in which to write. So that’s a solid desk, a swanky computer, a load of sharpened pencils, a diary, a notice board for your ignored plans and streaming instrumental film music for inspiration should do it.
8. You get quite smug
As the opening to your book takes form, you’re pretty pleased with yourself. And so you should be.
9. You can’t stop thinking about it
You’re out on the bus and you’re wondering how your hero will get out of the predicament you put them in. And you get the best brainwave ever; seriously this idea will win you awards. Oh, no pen or paper and your phone is out of juice. Shoot.
10. You’re unashamedly addicted
You have been bitten by the writing bug and you don’t care who knows it. In fact, you might flaunt it by taking your laptop into Starbucks.
11. Your first writer’s block
Wait, what the hell is this? If you thought that your flow would last until the ending of the book, welcome to the surface of the earth, which you have just been brought down to with a thump. You stare blankly at your screen and no amount of Red Bull can energise you back into action.
12. You plough on anyway
You will keep writing, stubbornly thinking that you can defeat this block. You then realise that the last ten pages you wrote are nothing but incoherent crap and you are even more disheartened.
13. You then come across a REAL problem that could destroy everything
You have been working on a genius plot development that you are incredibly enthusiastic by and then it hits you. It can’t possibly work because of something you established earlier in the book but forgot about. Your heroine can’t be pregnant because you established that she had her tubes tied. Your hero’s father can’t turn up unexpected because in the first chapter he said that he had watched him die. Oh, bollocks.
14. You take a break
And it could last a few months. And when you come back, you have forgotten everything. Cue a week of actually reading your book, making notes and getting back up to speed.
15. Suddenly your earlier chapters seem sloppy
Your writing has improved as you have made progress and now you are less confident about your earlier work. Maybe you DID rush it. OH well, you can re-work it later. Maybe.
16. You realized how attached to your characters you have become
It particularly hits home when it comes to killing off someone you planned to dispatch from the very beginning. Will you show mercy?
17. Nobody else seems to care as much as you do
You try and strike up a conversation about the problems you’re having writing your book or how excited you are to have finished your best chapter yet but all you get back is indifference.
18. Then your next problem comes
You’ve just finished your last page and then you happen to read a book or see a film that chucks in something seriously similar to one of your main plot strands. The editing process is going to be fun.
19. You can’t think of a title
This will forever be the hardest part. Without question.
20. Editing is a nightmare
You thought that writing was fun. But once the first draft is done, the creative bit is over and it’s time for the proof reading and admin. Oh, the joys. This is why your manuscript will likely end up in the attic gathering dust.
21. People are too nice
You persuade family and friends to read your book and hope for some constructive feedback. But everyone just tells you how good it is. Flattering – but not really what you need.
22. The whole thing just seems like a rush
Especially when the ending is in sight, you become lax because you just want to boast that you have written a book. AN ENTIRE BOOK.
23. You will get rejected
A hell of a lot. And then you will probably give up. All that work, that talent – wasted.
24. You MIGHT persevere though…
And it will be the best thing you did. You will accept eventually that, no matter how abrupt and unjust they seem, rejections are par for the course. You will keep at it, working on your baby until it is perfect and accepting that there is a huge level of luck involved too. You may even self publish or go via Amazon. But whatever happens, you can feel proud of the monster that you have managed to finish and the masterpiece it may seem.
And even if the world doesn’t get to see it, you know that you did it. And given the process of the steps above, you bloody worked for it too so good on you.
Above is excerpted from a UK author.
Talk with New York Times best selling author Steve E Clark, read his previous blogs and excerpts from his books.