The draft manuscript of book two is at the printers, ready to be sent off to my editing minions, so I'm stuck in the no man's land between books, unable to do anything more on book two and unable to move to book three lest the editing process should dramatically change the end of book two.
What do I do now?
I have vague memories of watching films, reading other people's books, and even going outside into the real world and talking to people, but I'm not sure I'm ready for that kind of commitment. So I'm sitting on the sofa with my husband and some celebratory champagne, and writing this instead. I find this the most tense moment of the whole writing process. No one but me has read the book. Unlike the first book, this time no one but me even knows what the story is, and I'm hardly objective. It's probably crap. The beginning's too slow, the end's too fast, and I'm really not sure about a couple of the big scenes. Or maybe the pacing's just right and those scenes are the best thing in it. How do I know? I'm writing it, not reading it. For these few days, I'm filled with self doubt.
Being a self-published author requires a definite ability to take a kicking, but I can't face moving on to the next demoralising stage of the process quite yet. I'm still trying to find an agent, so query letter after query letter whizzes off to be answered with a polite but firm 'no' or remains unanswered for six months, leaving me to assume the worst.
But that's not the bit that really matters. There are at least five people out there who are really looking forward to this book (I think). So who cares what the agents say? I can't let my readers down.
On Thursday, the shiny, new manuscript will find its way into the hands of four of my favourite people in the world, whom I'm asking to dissect systematically the product of the last six months of my life. They're doing me a huge favour, performing an essential role for the princely sum of zero English pence, and they're under strict instructions to be honest. I can take the criticism: as a junior lawyer I'm used to having my work covered in red pen and topped with directions to "see me". But on Thursday night I know I'll be waiting, nervously reading over my husband's shoulder as he makes his first forays into the text, intolerant and intolerable. I'll have to go and sit in another room until he's finished reading for the night, until he's ready to deliver his interim verdict. Whatever he says, it can't be worse than the waiting.