Just coming up to a year ago I finally finished the first full draft of The Thaw, a post-apocalyptic thriller novel I started between my second and third years of University. I’d recently read Stephen Kings’s On Writing and, as I finished the draft at some ungodly hour, I recalled a piece of advice:
“When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying the trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.”
Stephen King – On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
King recommends leaving a book to sit for six or so weeks:
“You’ll find reading your book over after a six-week layoff to be a strange, often exhilarating experience.”
As is unfortunately life, getting around to editing The Thaw, for me, has taken considerably longer. There’s two big reasons for this gap, because I’ve wanted to edit the book for ages:
- Guilt about working on personal projects while in the final throes of University, where all my creative and productive dragon energy needed to be focused on my work.
- Self-doubt about my abilities as an editor and a writer, frankly; can I do this work justice?
Happily, both of those issues are moot – my coursework is in and I finally j umped into the editing process. So approximately five chapters in, how do I feel so far about it?
I feel… impatient, honestly. The beginning five or so chapters have taken some intense work but it’s good work too. I’ve some notes I’ve made myself from a readthrough of the first draft – I’ve taken the approach to ask myself questions I want each chapter to answer.
Indeed, re-reading the book after such a time away from writing it (which was an intense process) has allowed me to soak it in afresh. Yes, the opening is the weakest part and taking the most work because I feel that, while I was writing it, I was yet to find my feet in my own work. But what I’ve read later on is some thrilling and, honestly, brilliant stuff. I’m really confident about it because it’s a fantastic story and I want to share it!
So what is my rough plan for the edit? I’m planning to take the time over the next three or four weeks to really get to grips with fixing the deficiencies, foibles, niggles and nags of the first draft, ironing it out into something less… raw from the forge of my mind. Then a week or so off then back to square one for the third pass. Once I get there I’ll have a much better idea of what I want to do with the book going forward, and maybe even share some extracts!
Ah, heck, here’s an extract now! Enjoy!
“Not too much further, Mr. President,” Abercrombie reassured coolly. The moisture seemed to drip around the prefabricated panels loosely lining the corridor. Abercrombie turned to Miller. “We’ve achieved a lot since your last report, Vice-President.”
Miller smiled again. Even the President thought his apparent glee peculiar and looked suspiciously at his junior and deputy. “Excellent. I’m sure the President will be impressed with your results. I knew you were the right choice in this division, David.”
“I do hope I’m about to see tangible results for my investment,” Meadows mused. Abercrombie stopped at the end of the tunnel. Another heavy metal partition blocked the end of the passageway. A door, like before, was here, with a computer next to it. The door was wide, with a viewing hatch punched into the metal.
“Gentlemen,” Abercrombie said lightly, “take your positions.”
Meadows and Miller stood before the closed viewport that was just on eye-level. Abercrombie tapped a few buttons. The noise reverberated into the rock outside. A metal shutter slid with the ticking of a delicate mechanism. Two gasps were audible.
Abercrombie laughed as he watched the dark bodies of the President and the Vice-President almost stick to the wall, transfixed. “Gentlemen, I present to you the future of the American race.”