Monday, July 02, 2007

The author answers [4]


Nicole Murphy asks: I'd like to know what part of the process of creating/writing/editing /publishing/promoting a book you find the most satisfying?

That's a different question to "What do you enjoy the most".

If you had asked me that, I would probably have replied: the first draft. Scribbling things down as they come tumbling out of my mind. Getting that first rush of words down on paper and beginning to feel the shape of characters come alive as they hit that brand new world I've just created. Thinking, Hey, that's neat! as I think of a plot twist or I express something particularly well.

Satisfaction? That's a bit different. I loathe marketing anything, so no satisfaction in promoting a book [although I do like meeting readers, not necessarily the same thing].

[Hey everyone, you ARE aware that Song of the Shiver Barrens hits the bookshops in Australia this week, aren't you? And you ARE all rushing down to the nearest book store to buy, right??]

Ok, promotion out of the way, let me get on with the really interesting stuff.

The first sense of satisfaction is when the first draft is completed. [Whew, I actually have created something that has a beginning, middle and an end. May not be very good as yet, but it does exist...]

The next satisfying feeling is when I feel I have got it "right". And that varies from book to book. It usually occurs sometime during one of the drafts, when I feel that I have everything in the right place, in the right order. The plot is behaving, the characters are all nicely well-rounded, I have a book, rather than just a story. Then I know I can get on to the polish. Sometimes that moment is elusive and I seem to have to chase it all over the place as the deadline gets closer and closer. Sometimes I need beta readers to help me get there, sometimes not.

The next moment of satisfaction is when I send it off to my editor and she gets back to me and says, 'That's great. I am sending it to copy edit." That has even occurred several times without going through an intermediate stage when she makes suggestions for a rewrite. There's an enormous feeling of satisfaction at that moment.

By the time I hold the published book in my hand, as special as that moment is, I probably feel more relief than satisfaction. The process of copy edit and proof reading has left me feeling more exhausted than anything else.

The final moment of satisfaction is when the first person gets back to me, after having bought the book, to say something complimentary - i.e. that they thought it was money well spent. That is the supreme moment, especially if it is someone I don't know or have little connection with and therefore - I assume - it must be an honest comment! ...That, quite frankly, is the moment that makes all the effort worthwhile.

And it still knocks me endwise: the idea that I can write something that brings pleasure or satisfaction to a stranger.

So, please, someone out there, tell me (honestly, now) what you thought of the Song of the Shiver Barrens....




4 comments:

KarenEMiller said...

I will as soon as I've popped down to Castle Hill and picked up a copy so I can read the final version. Today!

And first drafts? Aaaaarrrggghhhhh!!!!!!!

hrugaar said...

If I had to single out just one part of the process that's most satisfying (and it's very difficult) I'd think it's probably when I go back to re-read a book quite some time later (e.g. after it's published) and discover a part that (surprisingly!) works really well. Of course one is (hopefully) pleased with it at the time of writing, but to still be pleased even with that subsequent distancing is very satisfying - it's like, hey, maybe I can do this after all.

And yes, as glenda says, when a complete stranger tells you they really enjoy your work, it's quite an amazing feeling.

Anonymous said...

Bought it Sunday morning, have read the first chapter and if it wasn't for being in the depths of doing a complete plot outline for TDT I'd be sitting in my comfy chair reading it right now!

Just reading the first chapter got me right back into the world.

Barb

Glenda Larke said...

Let me know how the rest goes Barb - I always appreciate your editor's eye...you had better not wear your copy editing hat, though. There are quite a few typos and similar in this one, I'm afraid.