I can't believe that I've finally done it. After years of battling with my lack of confidence in my writing abilities I've actually finished a novel and edited it. Okay, it is far from perfect and needs much more work, but it's done and is on its way to an anonymous reader for the New Writer's Scheme of the Romantic Novelists' Association.
But you know what? I learnt something. One of the things I learnt was: listen to my CPs and when that first chapter is proving problematic, leave it and move on. That's the advice they gave me, but I was hung up on getting this chapter right. I felt I couldn't move on until it was sorted. Twenty days it took me to write a 50k draft. It took eight months of frustrated hair pulling, threatening dire consequences to the whole MS, and close to packing it in altogether, to get a grip and work on the rest of the novel. Another thing I learnt, and it's something I knew already, but it wasn't until I'd experienced it that I really understood: a novel won't be right first time and it's a process of evolution, where an idea grows and develops with each layer, splitting and dividing like the cells of an embryo to become something real, complex and more solid.
At the moment I'm feeling quite proud of my achievement and fairly chilled that it's winging its way to a professional writer for feedback. I know that feeling won't last and that I'll be chewing my nails wondering at my temerity in sending an unpolished piece of work out and stalking my post box for signs of its return.
I attended my very first RNA conference this year, held at Penrith, and it was an amazing experience. I met so many new people and best of all I got to meet two out of my three lovely critique partners - Jane O'Reilly and Jessica Thompson. Sadly, we didn't get to meet the fourth member of our group - Julia Broadbooks - as she lives across the pond in a much warmer climate and couldn't attend (not because of the climate - I just thought I'd throw that one in because our summer has, frankly, been pants!).
The encouragement I received from people I'd never met before and the inspiring workshops I attended at the conference really motivated me to get my novel ready to send to the NWS. For three weeks I got up before my family (at stupid o'clock) and got in a good two to three hours of work editing and re-writing and for the first time ever I felt like I was really trying, really putting in the effort. I put aside my lack of confidence and instead worked with my determination to get it done.
It feels good...