A Living Breathing Thing
I finished a novel! I wrote a book! Go me! I mean, it took 22 years... but still, Yay!
Of course, I'd researched enough to know that I was still eons away from my final goal. So first of all, I printed it out - exciting! - and went through it with post-it notes and highlighters and different coloured pens. I corrected typos, I fixed holes, I added and I took away.
After correcting the digital copy, I re-printed, giving copies to some of my closest friends and my sister to read. Cue nail biting.
After a bit of a slow start, I began to get WhatsApp messages with further typos and things that I'd missed. Pushing my disappointment aside, I created an editing group and started to work my way through and correct.
But then... once I'd gone through and made many, many, many changes, I discovered that some of my betas hadn't even started the book! STOP! Don't read it! In a flurry of panic, the new-improved copy was emailed across for their perusal with firm instructions to delete the other copy.
After another read-through and editing session, I began to query.
What a strange new world! How to sell your book in a couple of sentences, whilst sounding unique and interesting, yet relatable and comparable?
Whilst I had to set up a different group for those who had finished reading my story so that the others didn't get spoilers, I now had to write a synopsis with all my twists and turns laid bare! Oh the pain!
Finally, after many templates, blog posts and research, I sent out a handful of queries.
Suddenly, my phone became my enemy. It became something I was afraid of. Even though I knew it would take somewhere between four and eight weeks to hear back, each ping was a mini heart attack.
Meanwhile, I wrote a sequel. I don't mean to sound so nonchalant, but it just kind of happened. After a few weeks of back and forth, I joined NaNoWriMo and I wrote my bloody socks off. So now, my sequel is with alpha/beta readers and I have created more depth and layers to my characters than 15-year old me could ever have imagined when I first wrote my story.
However, I've since had my first three chapters of 'Crystal' (book one) beta read by fellow writers. They had some serious critique, which once I got over the inevitable stomach punch of 'it's not perfect?', I realised were brilliant ideas. So I started editing again.
WAIT! Some people are still reading the previous version! I've changed it loads since then! But some have already started, so I can't ask them to start from the beginning.
Oh no! What about the queries? I've heard back from some, but the others don't know the wondrous changes I've made...
And so, I have come to accept, that until it is printed and bound and on a shelf, unable to morph and change - even if I want it to - my story is a living thing. I do wish that I'd waited a little longer before querying, but I also know it's not the end of the world. Most importantly, my story is getting stronger with each edit and that's what's important. To write the best story I possibly can.