Last year, convinced The Secrets of Life and Death would not sell, I wrote another book. I called it A Baby's Bones, and I knew straight away that it was a better first draft, and I had learned quite a lot from polishing and editing earlier books. I was pleased with it, although I could see straight away that it had a lot of potential to be radically improved and my 16th century narrator, Edward Kelley, could have a place in it. It was written as a prequel to Secrets, and I sent it off to my agent just to see if it was on the right track. She liked it, and when talking to the publisher who was considering a three book deal, sent it on to the editor there. He hasn't read it yet and I've asked him not to. I don't think it's ready for all that! When do we let go of drafts? How comfortable are you at having early, flawed, scruffy possibly, drafts seen by people outside of your writing buddies? Do you even show early drafts to them?
I have a tight schedule for book 2, but at the mere suggestion of him reading Baby's Bones I'm desperate to look at it, make the improvements I think it needs, rewriting at high speed. This isn't about the editor at all - in fact, I think he would help direct the changes very usefully - but I'm embarrassed that it's so unfinished. I've asked for a couple of weeks to work on it! Is this me being daft?
Meanwhile, I'm working on the list of suggestions he gave me, especially about character development. The advice he's given me is priceless, this is a fantastic learning opportunity, why don't writing courses do this? Basically, he's nudging me to consider the reader more.
If you have a spare hour and have ever thought you could 'knock out' a Mills and Boon, this brilliant programme from the BBC might be informative. Stella Duffy, the novelist, took on the challenge to write a submission for M&B. Through the whole process, she was reminded to consider the readers, to meet their expectations and she found it DIFFICULT. I think she looked at her own writing from another perspective, too, and we get an insight into the writing process in her other work, too. Great programme, a nice reward for me after a day of pruning and editing (but only on iplayer for another 5 days). I don't think I'll be writing M&B any time soon! It did give me a sense of respect for people that do write romance, though, and reminds me of the old writing adage, write what you read.