December 12, 2007 at 7:48 am (Uncategorized)

Sorry about the absence of a post yesterday – it was my wedding anniversary and Llew expected my undivided attention even as I was busy ignoring him whilst chasing facts for a freelance deadline. Needless to say we had a lovely day – I hadn’t known he was taking the day off, so Monday night and yesterday were quite a lot more fun because of his surprise.

And it turned out to be a momentous day for more reasons than the anniversary – I received an email of my MS appraisal from Lynk Manuscript Assessment Service (hard copy to follow). Gulp.

As I emailed Miriam (my fellow Varuna casualty from a few posts back) it was fair, helpful, and encouraging. I think you have to be careful about which of these services you choose, and I feel like my research really paid off in this instance because clearly my assessor knew what was what. The feedback was extremely specific and constructive – where there are still problems in the current draft, they are clearly identified and explained. Interestingly, some of it is stuff I’ve had my own doubts about. One suggestion – tossing chapter one and starting at chapter two – reflects one I myself raised with my first reader several drafts ago. And much of this assessment is along identical lines to feedback from my second reader; the MS has come some way since then, but obviously not far enough.

Of course it’s disappointing that what I didn’t get was two thumbs up and an offer of representation. That would have been great, but I don’t really mind the idea that the MS just isn’t quite there yet. As soon as I started reading the assessment, I could see that what was being suggested was sound. There’s nothing there that seems unnecessary or even surprising. On the contrary, it just pinpoints gaps that if I’m completely honest I already thought perhaps remained to be filled. But equally, you know, it’s hard to keep revising in a total void, having to trust my judgement alone, and now I won’t be. It’s been hard to maintain my enthusiasm whilst I’ve had no sense that anyone else was ever going to have any.

What’s required right now is simply more graft. More and more and more. Rewrite upon rewrite upon rewrite. Some people might be able to just dash off the perfect manuscript in one burst of blinding genius, but I am not one of them. Nope, I’m a grafter. That much is becoming very clear.

And it doesn’t even bother me, the idea that I didn’t nail it first, second, or third go. There’s no shame in that, is there? I am now priming for my fourth really major redraft, and it may be the fourth of many more. That’s got to be okay, because that’s what’s required. It’s so like the PhD process I am really rather surprised. I hadn’t expected it to be so similar. I thought that writing this manuscript would be a creative process first and foremost, whereas I always suspected the thesis would be about process. And here I am finding this is process too. The thing that will eventually, one day, get me over the line (and by Christ I do mean to finish) is not the creative part of me that made this story up, just like my thesis wasn’t the best idea anyone had ever had and I was never the smartest person in the room when I was arguing it. It’s about the process, and about hanging in there for grim death thinking ‘Maybe this draft will be my last.’

Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. Right now it’s just back to the keyboard for this little tinkerer, and here’s where I start again.


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