Last Friday I finally finished the final draft of my YA novel The Tree Of Rebels. Yes, yes, yes, it is done! It is finished at last! Or is it? I’ve lost count of how many drafts and rewrites it has been through now. I’ve blogged about a fair few of them! I decided to change the tense from present to past, and I also added some new scenes. Then I went through it all again, with what felt like a very gentle and enjoyable edit. Correcting typos here and there.Small corrections. Nothing major. And I finally liked it!
As I may have mentioned once or twice before, I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this novel since I first got the idea for it. I ignored the idea for a while because it would mean writing a book way out of my comfort zone. When I finally started it, I suddenly got another really good and important idea for another book, which wanted to interrupt this one. I didn’t let it, and forced myself on, which in hindsight, was probably the wrong thing to do. I do wonder if I ought to have listened to the loudest voice, put Tree of Rebels to one side and gone with Elliot Pie when he was at his most demanding…
But anyway, I didn’t. I wrote this book, and then started a second draft, sent to beta-readers, drafted again, hated it, drafted again, loved it, left it for ages while I wrote Elliot Pie…drafted it again, hated it even more and so on, and so on. It was like having a constant argument with myself. This book is brilliant! No, it’s not, it’s a total waste of time!
I’m pleased to report that during this last, final, never to be messed with again, draft, I really and truly fell in love with this book. I got the feeling I had been waiting for. Everything clicked. I knew what it was and I was proud of it. Changing the tense worked wonders, and the extra scenes I added seem to work really well too. I was so into this book by the time I finished it, I even carried on and drafted the synopsis of the sequel, and wrote the first two chapters of this!
So when will I be releasing it then?
Hmm, not yet. Because I still don’t think it is finished! I decided that after so much doubt, it would be worth sending it back to my top beta reader/editor for a final read through. I know she will be honest and scathing if she needs to be. I am curious to see what she thinks of the change in tense and the extra scenes. Waiting for her to read it will give me some head space from it, and a chance for the book to breathe. I thought this was a sensible idea. If there are any lingering typos or things that don’t make sense, they will be picked up and sorted and being patient will help me decide if it really is finished.
The problem is, I am already getting more ideas. Just little bits here and there. Just bits of dialogue, and brief scenes or moments that have suddenly popped into my head. I really didn’t think this would happen! I really did think I was done…
But I’m glad that it has, even if this does mean once it comes back, it will be getting another going over by me. You see, it’s all too easy these days to write something, do a few more drafts and then self-publish it and move onto the next one. Believe me, it is very, very tempting to do this. I have so many other books to write, but I have to resist the temptation to rush things. Patience is the key. A book is done when it is done, and not a moment before. I could release this book now and see if you like it, or I could wait to see what my favourite critic says first. I could release it after that, after any last lingering mistakes have been mopped up, or I could wait a bit longer, see if it can be any better. It’s surprising how you feel about a piece of writing if you leave it alone for a while. You might think its the best it can be, but give it a few months, during which hopefully your writing skills would have improved even more, and quite often you can already see that it can be made better. And if it can, then it should.
So, apologies folks. The Tree Of Rebels is done…but not done.
The really good news is that I have finally fallen in love with it, which is how it should be in my opinion. I’ve had a strange relationship with this book, and I’ve nearly given up on it several times. It never felt quite the same as my other books, like the connection was not quite right. But this feeling has well and truly gone now. I’m even writing some more of the sequel tonight!