“Wait for Me” is the title of the first book I have ever completed. Like lots of people, for most of my life I have dreamt of writing a book. And now I have!
I say completed as that is the status of the book at the moment. I have got to the end. The story has been told. In many ways though, while I have completed this stage, the writing stage, it is really just the beginning of the next stage. I have now started editing the book with the help of my dear friend and fellow writer, Anita. She comes round to my house one evening a week and we sit together while I read out loud and she follows on my lap-top, making any necessary changes as we go. We are largely correcting spelling and grammar, re-wording unclear sentences, and correcting any inconsistencies.
It’s a slow and laborious process, but strangely satisfying. There are fifteen chapters and we have only done three so far. We managed only one chapter the first evening and pushed ourselves to do two the second. It’s surprisingly tiring and our concentration and mental agility is usually waning by around 9pm, much of it already used up before we meet by the working day behind us. I’d like to get this stage finished in the next couple of months if we can. We think we might either have to speed up, or find some time during the day to do it, so that we are not so tired. There’s a Bank Holiday coming up in a couple of weeks’ time. Maybe we can take some time to make some progress that day, if our other halves don’t mind?
My goal is to have completely finished the editing process and to have submitted the book for publication by the end of 2017. After the editing the submission process will be the next stage. Publication! I have debated with myself time and time again whether to self-publish or not. I know that many people self-publish now very successfully and that it has become a perfectly legitimate and respectable approach. I don’t completely understand why, but I really want to have a go at doing it the “hard” way, for me the “proper” way. I think it’s something to do with being sure that it is good enough to publish, that someone else thinks it’s good enough, someone who knows about these things and knows a good book when they read one.
Of course it may not be good enough, and that will be another story. I honestly can’t tell. My three friends from writers group have read it and I have read it to my partner. They have all been very positive about it and I don’t think they are just being nice. I read a fair bit, and read a variety of different genres from best sellers to classics. I think my book is better than some of the stuff I’ve read but definitely not as good as the “good” stuff. I know I’m not Margaret Attwood or Donna Tart.
I started out hoping I might be. I started writing my first book “The Ice Factory” a few years ago when I was made redundant and decided to take a career break. It was a serious book on a serious subject. A story I need to tell. I tried too hard to be “arty” and it was overly descriptive and intense. I know now that I was not skilled enough then to write this book. I might never be but I am going to try. I will come back to it and have another go, putting into practice everything I have learned about writing while working on “Wait for Me”.
“Wait for Me” was born soon after I joined the writers group. A combination of feedback on the first couple of chapters of “The Ice Factory”, and listening to the experiences of the other members of the group, made me decide to stop working on “The Ice Factory” and start working on something a bit lighter. You might say something a bit easier, something to cut my teeth on. A key factor was thinking about identifying a market for my work. It’s another story for another time, but I already have links to a ready-made market in the UK Zombie community. (I know its weird!) Andy from the writers group suggested that I should not underestimate the value of these links and consider writing something in this genre. I love reading books set in the Zombie Apocalypse, as well as watching movies and TV series on the topic. I’ve probably read every book that has ever been written apart from the really bad ones, and there are lots of these.
So, “Wait for Me” is the story of two ordinary British women that find themselves in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. Most of the Zombie books I have read, other than a few exceptions including “World War Z” and “The Girl with all the Gifts”, have been about machete wielding, macho men hacking their way through seething hordes with blood and guts flying everywhere. I wanted to write about how ordinary people would react and behave, and that is what “Wait for Me” is all about. It is also a love story as the main character is struggling to get back to her husband who she believes is waiting for her at home, hence the title, “Wait for Me”.
When I started writing “Wait for Me” a couple of years ago, I was nearing the end of my career break. I went back into full-time work soon after I started it. My job has got busier and busier over the last year and it has been harder and harder to find the time or the energy to write. At the start of 2016 I said I was going to finish the book that year. I set myself the target of writing a little bit every day, even working out how many words I needed to write each day to reach 80 or 90,000 words.
I didn’t achieve this and was still only about two thirds of the way through the story by the end of that year. At the start of 2017, when my partner and I had our annual chat about what our goals were for the New Year, again, I set myself the goal of finishing the book, but this time I was more realistic about how I was going achieve this. We had an honest conversation about how I was going to find the time to give it the attention it required. We agreed that I was probably going to have to use some of my holiday allocation to get the job done, and that I probably need to get away from home and spend some time on my own to avoid distractions.
And so, in May, I found myself in a remote Writers Retreat in rural Shropshire and it was there that I finally finished the book. The retreat was a rich and amazing experience in itself and I plan to devote an entire post at another time to talking about that.
So here I am with my first book finally written and well on the way to being ready for some form of publication. The dream is to secure a book deal and be paid upfront by the publishers to write the sequel, or even better sequels, plural. The reality is that I will send it off to multiple agents and if it’s not accepted by anyone, accept that it is probably not good enough and go down the self-publishing route. I’ve read somewhere that for a sci-fi novel you might need to try around twenty agents before admitting that it’s definitely not going to be accepted by anyone. Don’t get me wrong, I will still be happy and proud that I have done it but it never hurts to dream big!
I’ll keep you posted about “Wait for Me” as things progress on that front…..