There are different types of writers. Some like to write and rewrite and rewrite endlessly, refining gradually, each draft a little more perfect than the last. I am not that type of writer. I am the type of writer who likes to get it right first time and then move on to the next thing. It’s what I did with my first novel, On the Holloway Road. I wrote the first draft in a single caffeine- and adrenalin-fueled month, and the final published book was not different from that first draft in any major way.
The second book is different, though. It took me a lot longer to write, and is taking even longer to rewrite. I think part of it is that I wrote On the Holloway Road with no realistic expectation of finding a publisher for it, so felt more free. This time I am expecting my book to be published, so I am being more of a perfectionist. Part of it is also that it’s a more complex book. A big part of it is that I now have an agent, and he is coming up with lots of really good suggestions for improving the book, all of which involve more rewriting.
At first I hated all the rewriting – in my head I was already onto Book 3. But as I get deeper into it, I am starting to see what is possible. I am really thinking deeply about every single paragraph, weighing up whether it is necessary, whether it could be cut, examining the pacing and the plot development. I am discovering for the first time the pleasure of watching a book get better with each draft, rather than coming out in finished form. I still wouldn’t say I like editing nearly as much as I love the thrill of the initial creation, the words spilling onto the page and not knowing where on earth they came from. But I am getting used to it, and appreciating its value. And I feel as if I am learning a lot from doing this – hopefully enough to get Book 3 perfect on the first draft!