Well, both books are now in Bookman Old Style (I typed that ‘Boomkan Old Style’ the first time round, which sounds like an explosive device out of an Evil Dead movie) and I think I’ve dealt with all the mysterious extra pages, and the pages at the end of a chapter with only two words on them, and the hiccups with formatting the little in-universe quotes at the beginning of each chapter.
I’m feeling quite positive about this: I think it’s because I feel I’m doing something at last, rather than being stuck in a spiral of writing ‘would you like to buy my book?’ letters to agents and getting polite but firm ‘no thankyou’s back. I’m not bashing agents – I know they’ve got business decisions to make. I’m just speaking from my own experience of saying ‘I’ve written one book and I’m sending it to agents and I’m trying to write another one’ at parties and then meeting the same people at different parties eighteen months later and having to say exactly the same thing, which was starting to make me feel as if I should go to the parties in a t-shirt printed with ‘Hi! I’m a failure!’ and short-circuit the whole process at the outset, or possibly, as a couple of friends suggested, claim to be a hitman instead.
It was late 2007 when I finished the first draft of what eventually turned into The Maker’s Mask and The Hawkwood War, and whilst it’s been edited a heck of a lot since then (and I broke my ankle in 2008, which didn’t help) I do want to see these books out there and done with so that I can clear my head to get on with new projects.
Also, I’m proud of them both, but there are things I’d do differently if I was starting again now – particularly since back when I started, I didn’t know about TV Tropes, which is not all about TV any more but is, as it says on the front page, ‘a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction’. Some of them I evaded, but some of them I can see that I walked straight into.
In particular, You Gotta Have Blue Hair – I’ve had various blue-haired characters kicking round my subconscious for about twenty-five years, and I have absolutely no clue why. My best guess is that I caught some kind of anime on late night on Channel 4 and promptly forgot about it. And… well, I could go on, but then I’d spoiler the plot and none of you would buy the books.
Anyway, I want people to read them, but I also want to clear the decks so I can do better. I’m not sure whether that’s normal – I don’t really know anyone else in this situation. But it’s how I feel.