I read a blog a couple of weeks ago where a woman (sadly, I can't recall her name) was describing how she felt when she finished her latest book and sent it off to her 'beta readers' for their comments and critique. Now I didn't know what 'beta readers' were before I read this blog, but a quick look on wikipedia confirmed that a beta reader is:
a non-professional reader who reads a written work, generally fiction, with the intent of looking over the material to find and improve elements such as grammar and spelling, as well as suggestions to improve the story, its characters, or its setting. (which is useful to know, I guess).
Anyway, in this blog, there was a very good description of what it is I'm feeling this morning - a peculiar emptiness, a feeling of being a bit at a loose end, not quite sure what to do.
You see, I finished making changes to 'Fractured Time' over the weekend and, whilst I still think it may need just a little bit more polish, I had already come to the decision that I needed to get the whole thing out there so people can tell me what they thought of the entire plot (with all it's cunning twists and turns). I know I'd already had positive feedback on the first ten chapters, but I needed to know whether the whole thing worked. If it didn't, well, there's not much point in trying to further polish a turd, now is there.
So, on Sunday, it went out via the wonders of e-mail to Mags, Matt, Laura, Dan. Chris and Maddie…
…and then, well, suddenly, that was that.
I'd spent the last eight months getting up early to write, staying up late to write, sitting in the study at weekends to write and re-write and then…BAM, there's suddenly a void, a big space that's got nothing in it (definition of a void, I guess) except, perhaps, anticipation and maybe a little bit of apprehension.
So what now (apart from waiting)?
Well, I think a few short stories may be called for, something that is going to keep the creative juices flowing and the literary creativity bubbling nicely, but is not going to be as all-consuming as a full-blown novel can be (besides, I have DIY to do which the good lady wife has been patiently waiting for).
Strangely, though, I find myself already thinking about what novel I might write next.
Hopefully, if all my beta readers think Fractured Time is simply fabulous and I can then get a literary agent or publisher to also think it is simply fabulous, then a new Sam McCall adventure may be in the offing. Alternatively, I did leave Jethro Postlethwaite sort of hanging there at the end of Part 3 of The Book That THEY…, so I could get on and write the sequel to that (which will be imaginatively called The Book That IT Does Not Want You To Read). Or I could have a shot at something a bit racy (Twelve Tears of Regret) or something a bit off-the-wall, such as The Curious Case of God vs Pratt.
So many options!!
One thing is for certain, though.
Over the next few weeks, that peculiar emptiness inside me is going to fill with more and more of that anticipation and apprehension. The question is, when it is finally transformed by feedback, will it turn into bitter, burning bile, or the sweet elixir of success?
Watch this space.