With two books under my belt, I had imagined that I would sail through writing book three, but no. Each book I have written has arrived differently. I was absolutely obsessed by writing The Maid’s Room, but even though I wrote every day, still my first draft took about two years. I wrote the first draft of The Swap in a speedy four months, but this book, oh this book – well, it has hiccupped out of me in fits and starts.
My attention span has taken flight out of the window along with the birds wheeling through the sky. I have made tea (a lot of it); I have eaten cheese (a lot of it); I have distracted myself with Twitter. So far, so first draft. But what has been different this time is that I now have regular work which keeps me much busier (and happier) than I have been over the past years. I am freelancing as an editor and reader for editorial consultancies and literary agents which I absolutely adore. Editing is much more fun for me than writing a first draft, and when I’m editing there is much less eating of cheese, no Twitter and no wailing of, ‘I’m not sure I can do this!’
A few days each month though, I have managed to eke out time to write this first draft. But because I’ve been fitting it around my editorial work, it has taken me months to get to that daydreamy state where your fingers keep on typing as the words fall into your head.
It’s hard to have a job and to write; it must be even more difficult to have a full-on, full- time job and write.
I know I’ve found it hard. Somehow though, I have pushed through and today reached my golden number of 50,000 words.
Golden because last year, I wrote first drafts of two new books, both of which I abandoned at the 48,000-word stage. Those two novels have loomed in my corners this whole year – will that happen again? I thought. Will this work?
I still don’t know whether this book will work, but 50,000 words feels like a milestone to climb upon and breathe a sigh of relief. There have been killed-off characters, abandoned careers and thousands of shitty, discarded words, but something is forming with rough edges and messy bits. And if things don’t quite hang together properly yet, maybe, just maybe, they will. It’s been a long time coming, but right now, the first draft doesn’t seem like such a bad place to be.