Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Finishing the book


Well, I finished Before I Go to Sleep today. Again. I've read it through, and I'm pretty pleased with it. Of course, I can't be objective any more, but I think it's good. It doesn't rattle. There are moments of genuine surprise. I'm happy.

But it's not the first time I've finished it, of course. That was in...

August 2009

August 9th, to be precise. I remember the date, not only because I have slightly obsessive tendencies, but because it's my friend Simon's birthday. That was when I first finished the book, and typed 'The End'. I was happy with it, but I knew it wasn't really finished. I knew I had a redraft to do. I used Lulu.com and had it bound into a book, then I put it away, unread, until October. Back then it was called The Seahorse Diaries and it looked like this.


In October, I read it, and began the redraft. That took me until...

January 2010

That was when I decided it was as good as I could get it. That it was definitely finished now. I read it through and delivered it to my agent, Clare, who told me what I still needed to do to turn it into a book that she could sell. I set to work on another draft, that took me up to....

April 2010

That was when Clare asked to see it again. I worked solidly for a week and emailed it over. Finished. Finally. Following her read through of this draft Clare and Jake (Clare's colleague who handles foreign rights) began to plot submission. We'd have to get it out soon, I was told, as the publishing industry goes very quiet during the summer. There were more edits to make. Could I get it finished in a couple of weeks? It was that or leave it until September. Knowing I'd never be able to stand the suspense, I said I could, and went back to work....

May 2010

In May I finished it again. About four times.With each draft the edits I was making were smaller, more refined. Changing nuances here and there, adding elements to bring certain aspects of the plot into starker relief. But, still, they were not inconsiderable. Finally, on May 31st, Clare, Jake and I finally declared it done and ready to go. Fast forward to...

August 2010

A year (almost to the day) since I first finished the book, and with sales in upwards of 20 countries, I completed the edits suggested by my english language editors. Finally it's done, I thought. But now it's...

September 2010

And (I think) it is. There were a couple more things still to do, and now they're done.

So today is the sixth time I've 'finished' Before I Go to Sleep. I wonder if that's usual? I think it must be, for a first novel at least. At each stage it's become a tighter, better book. It feels more solid, now. It can stand up for itself, if that makes sense, and doesn't need me any more. That feels good.

I still have the version I finished in August 2009, though. Bound, as if it's a real book. One day it might be fun to read it again, to see just how far it's come.

But not today.

1 comment:

Jayne said...

I like the fact you think it doesn't rattle. :)

Thanks for sharing this - fascinating to hear what it is like behind the scenes, so to speak.