The Last Lap

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.

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

39 thoughts on “The Last Lap

  1. And the most disheartening part is that where once you liked your book, after a hundred read throughs, you begin to think it’s awful. It needs distance… which is coming.


  2. Anxiously waiting to get my hands on it!
    Stephen, please allow my to pass on an encouragement that just came to mind that I received from one of my student painters 2011 was Brittany’s last summer with me. That summer was also when I started my seminary studies. She had worked with me the two summers previous, and we had become friends. She was interested in my new endeavor and wished me well. After finishing our work that August, I did not see Brittany again until she visited campus in 2016. Her first question after 5 years was: Did you finish seminary? When I answered yes, a smile of joy broke out on her face. She said to me what I know say to you: I love it when someone has a dream/vision/goal that will be difficult to achieve and yet plows through to finish well!
    That’s as much for you as it was for me!


  3. Amazing accomplishment. So glad to hear your thoughts on creating, refining and sharing this labor of love. Editing your own work is one of the toughest, most frustrating tasks I can recall. Wow, grammar and punctuation just never let up, do they?


  4. How exciting! Glad you’re so close with it. I really struggle with editing – it took me over a year to get round to even a second draft of my novel, and I still haven’t finished it! I think it’s just the thought of going over something that I already know – weird that I’m an excellent proofreader when it’s someone else’s work, but when it comes to my own that’s certainly not the case…


  5. I totally understand the hair-pulling frustrations of editing – and after a while the story becomes so ingrained it is easy to miss typos and punctuation errors. I have read books where there are many and others that were flawless. I always try to ignore small typos and such – though one would think the publisher would catch them before it went to print. Whatever. A good story will always overshadow any small mistakes.

    But you’ve done it and I wish you once again my sincere congratulations and unbridled success!


  6. Never written a novel, but your description of how you can read something eleventy thirteen times and still read through errors…I relate. My Masters thesis. Even with friends’ editing eyes over it…does your head in!

    Good luck, it’s yours, and you’ve worked really hard at it ❤


      1. Thank you, yes, slowly settling in. It’s been a steep learning curve but there’s plenty to love about this place. It’s jolly expensive though, so I’m working out how to provide food on the table without taking out a mortgage. It’s lovely and hot and The Hamptons is rather fun, although the sea is toe-numbingly cold and I’m not completely convinced that there aren’t any sharks … And what of you? Life is good?


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