Killing your first draft

It’s not easy.

You’ve been working for months, maybe years. And you’ve finally typed THE END in as big a font as you possibly can and made your very own typewriter ‘ding’ noise when you saved it.

And it’s done. It’s finished. You’re ready to get published and start your book tour. The police put on extra security when they hear you’re coming to town; they don’t want crowd crushes or fans fainting and getting trampled. You prepare yourself for the inevitable torrent of interviews and award invitations. You can already see the ticker tape and confetti bursting into the air as you make your entrance into Waterstones to do a reading. Queues of your readers line up for miles, wet from camping overnight in storms with nothing but a broken umbrella to hide under.

Only, that’s not what happens.Editing

What happens is more like this:

You refuse to look at the manuscript for a week.

Then you print it out, a whole pile of words that you wrote.

And you have a horrible feeling that they might all be traitors. When you’ve not been looking they’ve been jumbling themselves up and having a party and getting pissed and now your manuscript is just a WHOLE LOAD OF CRAM SHEBABBLE that you wouldn’t even wipe your arse with.

The words have BETRAYED YOU.

At the very least they could have invited you to their party.

But this is all part of the process.

A process that you have to stick with.

I’ve already got one first draft in a draw that’s waiting for me to come back to it. That first draft got sidetracked by this first draft.

And now it’s time to concentrate. Because one day you’ve actually got to try and get passed the first draft, and make it to draft two, or three or fifty, or however many it takes.

Because you want someone to read it right?

And if you’re anything like me then nobody in the world can possibly read it until you’ve at least found out if those words are in the right order first.

So that’s why I’m editing Grind Spark. And I’m editing hard. I’m editing like I’m obsessed with red pens and post it notes. Even the cat’s being edited.

I’ll be honest, she’s not being entirely helpful.

But, the point is, I’m doing it.

I’m killing the first draft.

I’m killing it to make it better.

And I’m sticking with it even on the days when my brain decides that the entire idea deserves to be shredded into oblivion and then eaten by a rabid hedgehog because WHY ON EARTH DID I START DOING THIS AGAIN?

Because that’s just a moment of doubt. And everybody gets them. (If you don’t, please feel free to tell me whatever dark magic you use).

And the next day, I’ll read it and think that, you know, actually, one day someone else might actually enjoy reading it too.

And that’s going to be a good day.

Grind Spark – out now

Longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014, Grind spark is a near-future dystopian novel about growing up in the years leading up to the end of the world. It’s about pretending to be the perfect family. It’s about whether you want to survive. Treat your eye portals. Pick up your copy here.

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