I could fill a room with the people who have helped me complete my book to where it is now. And I’ll fill another room with the people who see it to publication.
When I started out on this writing-my-first-novel journey, I had in mind that it would essentially be a solitary exercise. Me and my pen. Romantic, hey? You’re imagining a picnic rug shaken beneath an oak tree, sun dappling the pages of a crisp new notebook as I spilled a perfectly constructed story along its duck egg blue lines. Sigh. Jane Austen eat your heart out! Sorry to burst that bubble, but much of the writing took place during a Tassie winter: me and my big ol’ computer on a Kmart desk in our lounge room, fire roaring, ugg boots and nanna rug.
But back to my point: writing and publishing a book is all about teamwork. It’s about collaborating with people who know their stuff, who have different skillsets to you and can bring value to your raw material. My part, especially at this point in the journey, is to hustle with my team.
In truth, it never was a solitary exercise. The idea was sparked from a campfire conversation three years ago in far North Queensland. Thank you to the ex-cop, ex-nurse (whose name eludes me) for sharing her stories, even if they were falsified (some of them seemed far-fetched… that or the adage ‘truth is stranger…’ was proved once more). And then there was the chew. Literally years of chewing my husbands ear about potential story arcs and characters and settings. Thank you darling.
During the writing phase, I was led by my Holy Muse. Still am. Always was. But there was a more acute awareness that the creativity flowing through me originated from The Creator. What a beautiful duet that was. You wouldn’t describe the book as spiritual in genre, but the writing of it was. And in this sense I cannot help but acknowledge that my book was co-authored by the Great Maker who first knit me together in my mother’s womb.
A funeral director, a midwife, a leisure and lifestyle director at a local nursing home. This is to name just a few of my many and varied research accomplices. Their insights were absolutely invaluable.
Since completion, a small army of avid readers has diligently read my manuscript’s pages, awkwardly flicking through the half-ream of Reflex, held together with an oversized bulldog clip. They have encouraged me, red-penned problem punctuation and pointed out stereotypes and plot holes. And then there was the professional manuscript assessment, inviting another team member into the fold. She did likewise: encouraged, red-penned spelling, punctuation and structure issues (more than 300 of them!), pointed out anything that jarred the flow. All these people generously giving their time so I could make improvements. Honing, polishing, moving it forward.
Now, I’m seeking representation with an agent. I’ve had rejections. Many publishers and agents are so inundated with submissions that they can only send a rote rejection letter without feedback. But I’ve been fortunate to have one agent give feedback — another who has (perhaps unwittingly) joined the team.
One day an agent will catch my novel’s vision. They will work with me to refine it some more before we pitch it to publishers. As a team. And the publishing house will have editors, cover artists, marketers, distributors, book sellers and so on. Everyone contributing to the finished work.
I’m excited: I love collaborating! The bringing together of so many talented people for one purpose is a beautiful thing. If you’re treading a similar journey to mine, I hope you’re likewise learning to enjoy the fact that creating a book is wonderfully collaborative.