On my 35th birthday I finished Part One of my book. ‘Finished’ is of course a relative term for a writer, for the constant reading and revision will continue, but the story has been broadly translated from my head to the computer and it is time to embark on Part Two. I am pleased to be on track with my ambitious target timescales but I am also terrified, because I had a four month plan when I put my career on hold and the initial phase will soon be over.
I am learning every day and loving life as a writer; I remember reading long ago that once you have your characters and scenarios, a book will write itself, and that has certainly been the case for me so far. My protagonists are becoming very real to me and I’m afraid to admit that my hopes of engaging more with the real world on leaving the City behind have not been borne out. Instead of being tied to a Blackberry or practicing a presentation to a Trustee Board in my head, I am researching the physics of dragons and running through synonyms on the school run.
Until now, the book has been embryonic and I have protected it, kept it close, sharing it only with those I trust most intimately. But my ultimate dream is that it will transport children to another world, the way Tolkien, Cooper and Pullman took me to Middle Earth with the hobbits, to join the Old Ones in their battle against the dark and to Lyra’s Oxford, wishing fervently for a daemon of my own. The gulf I have to cross seems vast and my next step is to find my book some readers and get some feedback, which means letting people into my world and introducing them to the characters who have become so significant to me.
The magic of a book is that it paints a different picture in each reader’s head, but it scares me that some people may not like what they see. I like to think I am receptive to constructive criticism, and I hope to welcome any feedback that will help improve the book, even if my ego takes some denting, but sending it out into the world feels momentous, like the first day of school, and as I send it off, I won’t be able to stop myself worrying about how it is faring, out there on its own for the first time.