As of Easter, my editor has finished with Solace and Grief. Apparently, she even enjoyed it, which makes me glow with a quiet firefly-warmth. I’ve taken a break from the sequel these past couple of months, so hearing this now is like snuggling happily into a favourite blanket. The exhausting thing about trying to get a first novel published – or rather, one of the many exhausting things – is that if you stop work on it, nothing happens. Editors do not magically gain access to your halfway finished draft, nor do agents ring and ask if they might peruse the most recent chapters. Instead, you are alone in your creative universe. Progress only happens when you make it happen – and when the necessity of eventual publication hangs over your head like the proverbial Pointy Thing of Damocles, there is a guilty need, both pressing and urgent, to always be doing something. Submission is only a temporary fix, elation quickly overriden by a nagging question: now what? Most publishers take months to respond – what happens in the interim? Editing what you’ve already sent off is a good way to keep busy, but waiting for a response still feels like sitting on your hands. In more ways than the obvious, publication comes as a refreshing change. Perversely, it grants the freedom to vacation from your characters sans guilt, to sit back and work on something else (or catch up on your DVDs, whatevs) in the delightful knowledge that somewhere, some wonderful soul is tinkering away on your behalf. The novel is being Worked On, and all is right with the universe.

Solace and Grief, as I may or may not have mentioned, is the first of a trilogy. Book 2 is currently under construction to the tune of about 40,000 words, with the caveat that the last 20,000 are in disarray. Literally. Many scenes have been roughly hacked into a new order, but before I read through and start a-stitching with my elegant surgeon’s keys, there’s a small matter of imperative: a new character whose intentions I must fathom absolutely before putting her – and the middle chapters – back in play. I’ve not addressed the problem for a while, but now that the editor is done, certain mental wheels have started clicking. Soon enough, the story will start to itch at me, and when the internal pressure reaches critical strength, I’ll fling myself back into it with a vengeance.

Assuming all my uni essays are done, that is. Publication changes many things, but – alas! – the intrusion of the real world isn’t one of them. Damned necessity.

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