Do other writers share my ambivalence about the need to go back to the first draft of a new book and make it much better? I want to make it as good as it can be, but it’s hard to go back to the text and start over. I just want it to be finished. My head knows that I must buckle down and do the second draft, but my heart wants to go out to play.
I met my deadline and got the first draft of the new book off to my editor by the end of May. For a day or two I felt as if a weight had been lifted, but I knew it wouldn’t go away. Since then I’ve been waiting for her reaction. It reminds me of waiting for my A level results fifty years ago: the feeling of anti-climax after a long period of concentration, not being able to settle to anything or see the way ahead.
Ten days of waiting have fuelled my tetchy impatience. When the pages of notes and annotations arrived yesterday I read through them too quickly, thinking not about the feedback but just about the implications for the next steps, worrying prematurely about getting everything done properly in the time I’ve given myself. Today I’ve made myself read through it all again, more slowly. I have to let the ideas settle, give myself time to think.
I recognise much of what’s been picked up by my editor’s eagle eye. Maybe I’d hoped she wouldn’t notice when things weren’t quite right, and I could carry on convincing myself that the first draft is ‘good enough’. But it isn’t, of course. And I’ll have to go back to it and fix it, and it will be much better as a result.
But right now I’m going to watch the cricket, then make a meal for a friend, have a glass of wine, and let the second draft gestate for a while. I’ll start next week. Isn’t this a great image, by the way. I want to see it on the cover of the new book, but I have to think about that too. My head hurts.