The Joy of ‘Free’ Time
Another year has gone by and I’ve just delivered the manuscript for my fifth novel, The House in Quill Court, to my publisher. I feel very odd. After ten months of rising at dawn to write, scribbling a few hundred words in my lunch break, tap-taping away at the laptop while I cook the dinner, talking over plot problems with my dog, Hattie as we walk, fighting off the villain in my nightmares and spending almost all my weekends and evenings writing, it’s done.
Except, of course, that it isn’t.
My editor is currently reading the manuscript and her carefully considered comments and suggestions will be back with me in ten days.
There are generally two to four rounds of revisions to follow. I always write too l-o-n-g, usually to about 145,000 words but the finished novel must be between 100,000 – 114,000 words. I’m hoping to have saved my editor some grief by slashing the manuscript to 118,000 words before submitting it this time!
Once the revisions are completed, the polished manuscript is sent to the copyeditor, who looks at it with fresh eyes to pick up any missed problems and advise where I can give it a final sparkle. Later on there will be the painstaking job of checking the proofs.
Still, for now I have ten free days. Ten whole days! Well, that’s the theory, anyway.
My fourth novel, The Chateau on the Lake, was released as a mass market paperback in May so I’m busy with promotional blog tours, breakfast meetings, talks and bookshop visits. I’m writing a short story, Christmas at Quill Court, to be published before Christmas and I’m preparing notes for a workshop I’ll be taking at the Romantic Novelists’ Association Conference in July. Oh, and I should be outlining Novel Number 6 by now.
Meanwhile, I must attempt to locate my desk underneath ten months’ worth of unfiled paperwork, find the tax form that keeps giving me nightmares, iron heaped baskets of crumpled clothes, restore a garden that looks like a jungle, see grandchildren that have grown several inches since our last hug and visit friends who have forgotten what I look like. I think my husband would quite like it if I say hello, too!
Recently I gave up the day job so I’m hoping my time will be more under control very soon. Hmm. I have a funny feeling that I should be using this extra time to be more active on social media, to give more talks, visit more bookshops and write more short stories or novels.
It seems to me that writing time is like storage space – the more you have, the more you fill it up. Right, no time to waste, I’m off to my study to write the Christmas short story. But I might take a very large glass of red wine with me. And, yes Hattie, I promise we’ll go for walkies later on.