Friday 13 April 2012

The end?

It is with rather a lot of pride and no small dose of relief that I can tell you I have finished my novel!

I finished the actual writing of it a few weeks ago, left it completely alone for a fortnight, and then over the Easter holidays went through then manuscript armed with my red pen and did a lot of editing. In fact the editing took me longer than I anticipated, but I was really disciplined and read the novel out loud (my poor neighbours!) so I could get a feel for what language worked and didn't work, and how the dialogue really sounded.

It's been a really interesting process and I think I've been through most of the big emotions while writing it - excitement when I began, then fear and doubt (could I do this?), frustration and anxiety when the words wouldn't come as easily and when the plot felt sticky, jealousy of published or more accomplished authors... but I finish the project on a high. I'm very aware I may not be successful in my attempts to achieve publication BUT at least I will have tried - and to adapt the cliche, better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all. Well, at least it is in my book.

For years I've had a romantic notion that I could be a novellist. I've read numerous comtemporary texts and told myself - and sometimes other people around me! - that I could have done a better job. And the comforting thing about a fantasy is while it remains that, you can believe it. For a while that was definitely enough for me. But I think there comes a time when you realise that 'the proof is in the pudding' and perhaps fantasy isn't quite enough.

We can all say that we are frustrated writers, burgeoning with talent and with an unbelievable, sure-fire success of a book inside of us, and no one will know any different. But I realised I didn't want to go to my grave without actually trying to put my thoughts and ideas on paper - it really is one thing to say you can do it, another entirely to get on with it in practice. Writing a novel is no mean feat - and I'm sure most keen writers and novellists find themselves in the position I was in, balancing a full-time job, a marriage, friends and family, volunteering commitments, and more latterly selling and buying a property and having a pregnancy to think about. You have to be so dedicated to get the work done and you have to really believe in yourself - not a trait I am always blessed with.

There were certainly times I thought I wouldn't make it - my bursts of energy and enthusiasm came and went. Sometimes writing was a delight. Sometimes it was a chore and was really hard-going. There was many I time I asked myself what on earth I thought I was doing. But I'm really glad I stuck with it. Several friends have now read my manuscript and given me constructive criticism and really positive feedback. The fact alone that they have read my creation gives me a buzz...

And so the next step is to start the submission process properly and send my work to agents and editors who may be able to represent me... wish me luck!

Thursday 12 April 2012

Don't you know that it's different for girls?

Last night my school friend Hannah posted a picture of her 12-week scan on Facebook. I know this isn't a particularly uncommon thing to do, but it really took me by surprise. I felt a little tense when I saw it, as if she was in some way 'tempting fate'. At first I wasn't sure why I felt this way, but then it hit me. Why wouldn't Hannah post on Facebook? Why wouldn't she tell everyone she knows about the baby? Why wouldn't she anticipate that everything will go well and her baby will arrive safe and sound in October as expected?

This would be the normal reaction of a first-time Mum, happily awaiting the arrival of her first child. But as much as I try, I can't always feel like that and occasionally that makes me sad. I'm aware that sometimes my reactions are the abnormal ones...

To try to explain - as much as I feel the Boy and I have worked through the miscarriage and our grief from last year, there is something about the fact we lost our first baby and that we lost a twin this time, that makes our experience of pregnancy now a little different to that of my friends who have not had a loss.

It's like my eyes are somehow wider open to the bumpy path that lies ahead. My senses are more keen to danger, my ears more alert to warning signs. While some of my friends think nothing of discussing names, buying baby goods, and excitedly anticipating their scans, for me each of these appointments is a strain and a hurdle. Something to be endured, not enjoyed. I try hard to keep calm and think positively - and for the most part I am pleased that I achieve this - but because of our experiences I have a tendency to think the worst. At every appointment I almost expect to be told that the baby has died or something has gone wrong - even though I know logically that such news is extremely unlikely and that what has happened to us thus far has just been extremely bad luck.

I don't want to give the sense that I'm not enjoying this pregnancy, because I really, really am. I couldn't be more thankful that I am where I am, and at many points every day I find something about being pregnant or the baby that makes me smile - today's was the anecdote from my Baby Centre phone app, that tells me today the baby is growing sweat glands! A vital piece of information for me to know...!

I suppose my point is that I am just way more wary about what can go wrong than some of my pregnant peers. And I envy that innocence a little. I'd love not to see each scan the way I do - at my 12-week scan anyone would have thought I was walking in to face a firing squad, I was that frightened! And I know that's not a normal level of concern to have for that occasion. I'd love to book my NCT classes without feeling I have jinxed myself, or to pick up some clothes for the baby and not think that by doing so I have condemned myself to another loss.

I suppose I must just keep trying harder and harder to rationalise and comfort myself. I have every right to be hopeful and what will be will be. We've been stung before but we have survived, and what I must do now is take courage and hope for the best. Because more than likely, that's what awaits.