An occasional series looking at the genesis of a story, from the initial spark of inspiration, through conceptual development, the writing process, and what happens next, with tips based on what I’ve learned along the way. In this blog, I’ll be looking at On the Brink, the sequel to my Arthur C Clarke Award-shortlisted debut novel Edge of Heaven.
In spring 2003, I was at something of a crossroads in my life. Circumstances had conspired to make it necessary to leave a job that I adored, and I’d been doing temporary admin work to pay the bills. I’d decided to go back to college in the autumn to study for a qualification in journalism, because I was still trying to find a way to write for a living and I’d had the grand total of one short story published in the entire history of ever, so fiction didn't seem like a viable career option just yet. But September was months away, and I had a whole summer to fill before that. And then I found an advert for temporary factory workers in the Netherlands, and I knew immediately that this was what I'd been looking for.
Once upon a time there was a writer who hated editing. (It's me. The writer is me. Bear with me; this story does have a point.) This writer had a completed novel manuscript that was sorely in need of an edit, and had roped in two excellent friends to provide feedback. Their feedback was insightful, considered, and incredibly helpful, and now that writer faced a new problem: she was going to have to put the feedback into effect. She was going to have to edit the manuscript.
So, she did what anyone would do and procrastinated. The house got very clean, put it that way. And when this writer was finally forced to confront the fact that the novel would not, in fact, edit itself, she decided to game her resistance: she entered the novel, partially edited, into the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair. The competition only required the first 10,000 words, which were complete, and the organisers would ask for the complete MS only if it was selected as a winner. But selection wasn't until December - three full months away. That was ages. Surely, the writer reasoned, surely she would have completed the edits by then?
Blog updates on the first of every month.