What a relief to finally type The End on the final page of my novel.
But, sadly, that doesn’t mean work is finished. I’m reminded of jumpers I struggled to knit in my teens. The shape is recogniseable, but the tension’s all over the place, there are odd holes which weren’t in the pattern, and nobody would be seen dead wearing it.
A recent quote of Gustave Flaubert’s, seen on Twitter,* struck a chord:
‘I am irritated by my own writing. I am like a violinist whose ear is true, but whose fingers refuse to reproduce precisely the sound he hears within.’
If Flaubert struggled, what hope for lesser writers?
Weeks, perhaps months, of editing those 100,000 words lie ahead. Of straight-forward proof-reading. Of adverb-pruning. Of tightening action sequences. Of making sure those blue eyes in chapter three haven’t turned hazel by chapter thirty. Of wheedling long-suffering friends in ninevoices to take yet-another look at a purple passage I’m insecure about.
In the meantime I hope a police car doesn’t draw-up outside my house, with gentlemen in dark blue wanting to ask awkward questions about my on-line researches into the murkier corners of the eighteenth century…