I haven’t been writing as much for the blog, nor
stalking reading and commenting on other blogs. I’ve spent less time on Facebook (a good thing), replying to emails (not so good), and my poor family haven’t seen much of me (definitely bad). I’ve appeared at school pick-up, driven kids to and from after-school commitments, and sat impatiently through dinner, before whizzing back to the attic and my novel.
Basically, I’ve had my head down and my bum up trying to finish it. I’m off to Varuna next month and I want the manuscript as good as I can get it before I go. Much of the hard slog is done—the structural changes, the shifting of chunks and chapters—and it’s now the finer details—the honing of paragraphs and sentences. I can smell the finish line and I just want to get there …
I’m only finishing a fourth draft but I’ve revised some of the scenes fifty times or more. I can recite some of the passages. I’m at the point where I change something, then change it back on the next read-through. I know it still has errors, but I can’t see them. I’m not reading what’s written anymore—I see what I think I’ve written or what I meant to write. I’ve read it so many times and know the story inside-out that I can’t spot the gaps or bumps. There are scenes that the story would be better without, but I’m reluctant to part with them.
It needs fresh eyes, and it’s time to hand it over. That’s exciting, but daunting. For the past two years, I’ve spent most of my waking hours holed up in the attic writing this story, just me and my characters. I’ve lived with them, loved them, laughed with them, cried with them. I’ve cherished writing their lives. I’ve treasured our private hours together, just them and me. I’ve kept their secrets and they’ve returned the favour.
The story is fiction, but it’s full of me. I‘ve poured myself into it—my thoughts, my personality, my heart. Apart from my kids, this is the most precious thing I’ve ever made. It’s not frilly or lyrical—I tried to write like that, but I just sounded pretentious. My story, ‘Ida’s Children’, is a down-to-earth Australian novel, about down-to-earth Australian people. Like the people I grew up with. Like me.
It’s the best I have to give. It’s the best I can do.
I’m about to hand my baby over to Kristen and Emily, my writing partners. They’re wonderful writers and kind, generous people, but I still feel vulnerable. I know that if they don’t like my story, I’ll be devastated. However, better to know than not. I’ll pick myself up and dust myself off, as I have many times before, and you’ll find me back in the attic, back at the drawing board, working hard at making it better.
Wish me luck …