It’s not often you get to finish writing two books in one day. Although it’s easier than you think, as there are so many landmarks in the writing of a book that feel like the end.
There’s the first draft - the marvellous moment when you write the last word of the last chapter and you think that’s it! It’s done! I’ve actually told a story from beginning to end! It’s perfect! Hurray!
Then there’s the stop-start process of second, third and infinite number of drafts where you admit that the first draft wasn’t perfect at all and you catch the weak bits and sort them out.
Then, there’s the editing process - the on-screen manuscript to read and change. The hard copy to mark up - how nice to mark up copy on paper again, I haven’t done that for a newspaper for years.
And then the final, final changes. Mine came through for Joe yesterday, everything picked up by the proof-reader, including one page which had the word ‘point’ repeated four times - argh. Thank goodness Frances Lincoln isn’t one of the publishing houses I’ve heard about who have cut down on proof-reading.
In the meantime I’d finished the first draft of Almost True a few weeks ago and sent it to my agent. She came back with her comments on Monday…generally positive, but with one problem. I spent a little time thinking about that problem, and then kazam! One hundred lightbulbs went on in my head. I knew how to fix it! The whole book would change if I re-wrote 10 pages. At 10pm I sat down to rewrite. Three hours later draft two was done.
So, yesterday I finished two books. My agent sent Almost True to my editor, I sent him my thoughts on the final changes to Joe. Of course Almost True isn’t really finished at all - there are his thoughts and changes to come, and then the whole editing and proofing process. But the writing and inventing phase is nearly over. And now I have to face up to the most difficult question. What next?