A close friend has said to me on a number of occasions over the past year that most people would never know what goes into publishing a book. She thought, and rightly so, that a writer writes a book, picks a publisher, and finds it on the bookstore shelves weeks, maybe months later. She often seemed bewildered when I’d say that my editor had sent the manuscript back to me for changes, again and again and again and yet, again. “How rude,” she thought. “Whose story is it anyway?” “And why on earth do you need to do all this social media kerfuffle?” What would I do without my devoted friend? She, like me, has come to realize over the past year what a twisty, uphill road it is to publication. And my road has been many years long, like most writers, dotted with other painstaking, joyous works and a whole mountain of rejections.
An incredible learning experience, having my debut novel published has taught me about patience in an industry that is tearing at the seams with new books every day. It has taught me about patience in seeing the process through correctly and patience in developing the best possible product with my best possible writing. Editing is huge and cannot be rushed. It means months and months of changes, re-writes and tweaking until it feels right – until it is right – the most polished product possible.
For the first time in my life, my writing is being reviewed by people other than my teachers or employers. I have a healthy stash of stoic Scottish blood in me, so I am neither disillusioned nor dispirited and feel perfectly strong to face criticism. However picked apart my novel might become, the one hope that stays true to my heart, is that my actual writing will be seen as good writing. I have worked hard to improve my writing. Every day, keeping an oxymoron alive by lovingly slaving over my craft, certainly to no financial reward as of yet and sometimes to only one pair of eyes. Writers write – it’s what we do. It isn’t easy. It isn’t for the faint-hearted. We feel vulnerable when handing our babies over – dare I say to be judged. Thick skin is a must.
On the other hand, when someone notices your writing, a story you’ve crafted from your heart as much as your mind, it is pure joy to see it go through the publishing process. It makes me think of a watchmaker with a fine pair of tweezers carefully riveting the inner workings together or driving components apart – a jewelling set to fit everything into place.
I’m grateful for such a process.