That's right! The WIP is finally 'finished!'
After I finished the first (actually third, but officially first) draft of the book, I printed it out and tried to ignore it for about a fortnight. I do this for everything that I write, if I can. Then once I've gotten that crucial bit of distance, it usually takes me about a week to ten days to work through and mark up a manuscript and then another week to ten days to actually make the changes to the book. This story took double that time to mark-up and nearly that again to get the changes input. I put that down not only to the length - which was 133k before the edit, longer than Shadows on the Moon, up until now my longest draft ever - but also the density of research involved.
I have never done this much research for a book before in my entire life. No, not even Shadows on the Moon. I might have to open up my own little secondhand bookshop in order to dispose of all the reference books just so that I can see the walls of my study again.
This makes editing a fine balancing act.
Which bits of research honestly need to be woven into the book to give the reader crucial information? Which parts are vital to make the story cohesive and believable? Have you managed to impart this information in a subtle and interesting fashion or does it need to worked on some more - broken down further or conveyed less directly. Which bits of research probably ought to be there to create mood, atmosphere or immediacy, but can really be cut down a lot, moved, or rejigged? Which bits needed to be there for you, the writer, to work through certain elements of character or plot development, but can safely be excised now that the draft is complete? Which bits probably never needed to be there but you worked them in anyway because they were cool or you wanted to make the best of that super boring book you forced yourself to read cover to cover which really only had one interesting thing in it...?
Do any of these alterations leave weird gaps or obvious joins in your prose, or effect your story's pace?
Then there's parts of the manuscrupt where you suddenly panic because you realise you didn't give enough background or detail... but you can't find the notes/reference book/link that would help you to correctly convey that info, and you have to spend a day tearing your house/internet search history apart to try and find it so that you can add one delicate little line to the end of chapter nineteen, and a paragraph in chapter twenty-two, to ensure that the entire secondary subplot makes sense to someone other than you.
All that in addition to the usual prose, pacing, characterisation and plot stuff! It makes for a lot of work. It was fun, but still super intense.
And yes, you did see sarcastic quotation marks bookend the word 'finished' (I did it again, can't help it). This is because although I've written my first draft and revised it to the best of my ability, this is actually only the beginning of the process. I await Super Agent's judgement. Is it too long? (Probably). Too slow? (Probably). Too boring? (I really hope not!).
Depending on her feedback I could be revising it for months more - but there's no way for me to know at this point, since I basically have zero objectivity left after working on this monster for - er - over eighteen months now, on and off? Eeep.
This book doesn't have a contract yet. I really believe in it, and think it's not only a good story, but an important and timely one. But any crossed fingers or prayers to the book gods that you might feel like offering up would be super appreciated anyway.
In the meantime (while waiting for my agent's verdict and then waiting to see if any publishing houses feel like offering the book a home) I'll be doing work related to my Royal Literary Fellowship and, after the usual period of frantically tearing through my dusty TBR pile, probably noodling around on various other projects just for fun.
What are you up to, my lovelies? Let me know in the comments!