I guess we’ll see.
There is a huge sense of satisfaction in finishing a manuscript, often compared to giving birth. Well, I’ve written three books, and given birth to three babies, and I can’t see many similarities at all. I mean, each time there was pain and a massive effort, and a lot of screaming for it to be over, but that’s where the comparison ends.
Creating a person from scratch takes nine months (or nine and a half, if you’re me). And then you push it out, and you have a new baby in your arms, and absolutely everything changes from that very first moment.Finishing a book is completely different. Yes, this last book also took nine months, and yes, there was a definite high when I finished. I stared at the finished draft for several minutes feeling very clever, much like one would stare at a new baby. I had already decided what to name it, so I typed the name on it and closed the file. Then I treated myself to a cup of tea and a lie down, much as I did after giving birth, and rang my mum to tell her the good news. She was very excited, though not quite as excited as when I told her her grandchildren had been born.
Strange, I know.But then that was it. Nothing else happened. I sent the file on to my agent, and that was the end of the story. Nothing changed. My life stayed exactly the same.
I have had two books published and this one will no doubt be published too. It’s a good book. I’m proud of it. But I know enough now to know that publishing a book isn’t the life changing experience one imagines it will be.Becoming a published author is a crazy dream for so many of us. We imagine that everything will look different when we have achieved our goal. We will be successful, glamorous, perfectly fulfilled. But nothing much looks different. Sure, we have the excitement of seeing our book in print, and – if we’re lucky – the thrill of receiving royalty cheques in the mail. There may be a launch party, and some press. There may be minutes, even an hour or so, of glamour.
Essentially, however, life stays the same. Unless we are J K Rowling, or E L James, or Tom Wolfe, chances are we are not going to be propelled to super stardom. And we are not going to be propelled to great wealth.But that’s not why we write. We write because we have to. Because we itch to be read. Because we cannot be happy doing anything else.
And for several minutes after we finish a manuscript, we feel very clever indeed.