So it has finally happened! After months and months of toiling over the chapters, sweating over the sentences and tinkering with the characters, I have finally handed to my girlfriend the first draft of my new novel that I am happy for her to read. “Why would you do such a thing?” I hear you ask. “Why, to gain her thoughts and reactions of course!” I reply.
There is something innately exciting, if also daunting, about handing over my work to be read by eyes other than mine. Somebody other than myself reading it means, in some weird way, that it actually exists. These collections of words that make up sentences and paragraphs and chapters actually mean something that makes sense to someone other than me. Up until that point that my girlfriend began reading it I could have burnt the whole thing and nobody else would have known it had ever existed.
It’s a strange thought that something I have lived with day in, day out for so long could cease to exist without anyone having known about it. For that reason, amongst others, it is exciting to present my work for someone else to read. It will finally get to exist in a world other than that which goes on in my head!
Of course I am also excited to hear Jodie’s comments and suggestions and therein lies the more daunting aspect of it. Will my little baby be understood? Will Jodie get it or will she think it’s an odd story from her increasingly odd boyfriend?
It was a difficult thing to hand this novel over to Jodie. Due to the sensitive topics in it I have been continually thinking of ways to make it more readable. Also due to the way it is structured I have had to keep myself open to ways to allow the plot to flow more and make it seem more effortless. (Takes a lot of effort, that!)
Every time I came up with a new idea to attain those goals I would have to go back to the beginning to rejig everything. In this case rejigging the structure has meant having to shift entire sections of narrative around. A massive headache, when you think you finally have the sections flowing nicely, to move everything around again but if a job’s worth doing… All this has meant that each time I thought I would be in a position to hand Jodie the novel for reading I would have to spend another month or so implementing the new idea or approach.
Now I have finally handed her the latest draft, which will be the first draft for her (must be draft five for me), I just need to wait for her comments!
Thankfully, early indications seem to be that she is impressed. When Jodie first began reading my work I thought she was being polite but over the years I have learnt that she will always give me her genuine feelings about my writing. (She told me a few days ago she wanted to hit me for letting one of the nicer characters get hurt.) It’s one of the things I love about her and why I can think of no one better to have as a first pair of fresh eyes on new material.