The novel; an update in January 2022

When I finished my novel, The Way We Say Yes, in October last year I had a number of offers to read it from kind friends, but I decided against that. I wanted a totally objective assessment from a stranger, a literary professional. I’d had a good experience with The Literary Consultancy when I was putting my first full-length short story collection – Word Play – together. The report from their reader was invaluable. It resulted in the rewriting of almost all the stories in that book, and in a permanent change in the way I look at my own writing.

I had no qualms about sending them the manuscript of my novel, despite it being around 93,000 words long. They assigned a reader, and I waited, mostly patiently, for his report. I must admit that for the last couple of weeks I was expecting it to arrive at any moment. I was by turns anxious and treating the expectation with my usual sang froid. (Who am I kidding? I was scared stiff.)

The report arrived yesterday, and it’s massive. It’s thorough, painstakingly detailed and – get this – mostly positive and encouraging.

It will take me a couple of weeks to digest it, and longer than that to get down to the rewrite (I have other writing and editing priorities just now), but I will do it.

The novel contains two interwoven timelines; one medieval, the other modern. The reader suggests rebalancing these; more medieval, less modern. I can see how that will work, and I’m already steeped in the events of the Albigensian Crusade, so writing those sections will be a joy. He also recommends cutting some of the modern story, and he’s made some eminently sensible suggestions, only several of which will break my heart.

The upshot is that I can see the second draft being finished in the second half of this year, and it will be slightly smaller; perhaps 86,000 words or so. I’m not even going to think about what happens after that. I can do this.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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2 Responses to The novel; an update in January 2022

  1. John Barker says:

    Very positive Colin. It must be impossible to objectively edit one’s own work. Glad to see that you have been encouraged to stay the course!

    Discuss tomorrow.

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