I’m proofing the final edit of the book today. I really should be doing other ‘stuff’ but I’ve foolishly informed my publisher I’ll have the final, final, final version with her by close of play tomorrow. So when I should be running, or studying or watching ‘Killing Eve’ boxsets I’m poring over a manuscript I’ve pored over on countless occasions before. Familiarity breeds content? Not quite, but I’m starting to tire of my own words.
The good news is that it reads well. The publisher has done a fantastic job with the layout and format and an even better job at ironing out my ever so dodgy grasp of punctuation and grammar. I have learnt so much about apostrophes and semi colons these last two years. And as for the mighty comma, don’t even get me started. I’m sure the grammar freaks will find something to moan about but, hey, we’ve done our best.
The cover is stupendous, beyond anything I hoped for. Although it’s the ‘Kirkwood Scott Chronicles,’ I really wanted Meredith to be on the cover so I’m glad the publisher went with my thoughts. It really helped being able to visualise my concept in a photo shoot and send the images to the ‘arty’ people who designed it. Thanks again to my talented photographer, Peter Johnston, and ‘Meredith model’, Rebecca Monaghan.
I’ve had several bizarre out of body experiences while reading this edit. It’s been some months since I visited the story. Despite being almost two years of my life when I finally closed the lid of my laptop I never wanted to set eyes on it again. I had overdosed on Kirkwood, Meredith and Skelly. Stuffed to the gills, I was. I never wanted to read another word of it again. Yet, here I am.
It’s bizarre in that, while I remember writing it, the words feel as if they belong to someone else. Did I really dream up this story? It’s like it’s someone else’s work and they dumped it in my head whereupon I regurgitated it word for word, the clumsiest of conduits. It’s daunting. Could I ever repeat the feat or was this a one off? Am I a shrivelled husk now, drained of creative juices and anything remotely resembling a sequel?
There’s also the mistakes. How can you read a page 22,578 times and still overlook a glaring typo or get a date wrong. Repeat after me 100 times. The Battle of Waterloo was in 1815, not 1814, 1816 or 3589 for that matter. Consistency is key. There’s nothing worse than a glaring error to distract the reader from the story and make them doubt the already dubious talents of the author. The least I can do is get my dates correct.
Yet here I still find myself, trudging through the final chapters. It’s the last lap of the track, the home straight, the final furlong. All I have to do is keep my legs pumping for a few more seconds and I’ll clatter over the finishing line, exhausted but fulfilled. While my lungs scream for oxygen and my legs cramp up, I’ll fall to the ground safe in the knowledge I’ve run my race and earned the plaudits of the crowd. The pain is temporary, the achievement permanent.
The finished product is never perfect. No matter how many times I will read over it, I will always find some blemish or imperfection. It can always be better, improved upon. But there comes a time when you have to step back and let it go, out into the great unknown. I’ve done all I can and it’s time to let my literary first born step out into the big, bad world. Kirkwood Scott will have to fight his own battles from now on.