The sheer hard graft of writing (again)

Allison Tait author
Posted on August 3, 2012

Yesterday I received the editor’s notes on my first novel. Thirteen pages full of suggestions and ideas and … stuff.

I read it through once, heart in my mouth. Every suggestion, idea and… stuff… requires me to delve back down into that place from which writing comes and bring forth… more. Better. The best I can do. Even though I thought that I’d already given my best. I need my Bestest Best now.

I got these notes three hours after I had sat down with the first draft of my second novel and gone through it with a fine-tooth comb. All I could see was the work I had to do. So. Much. Work. But it goes on the back-burner now while I focus on the first one.

I am learning so much with this process. I know that I have written before about the fact that your first draft is not your book. But now I know just how much it changes. You can’t hide from an editor. Things that in your heart of hearts you know are not developed enough will not be ‘overlooked’. They see straight through to the book it could be. And they make you do the work to get it there.

I will not pretend this is not agonising. Because it is. The editor’s note that I wanted to receive would have said this: “Dear Allison, we think your book is absolutely perfect the way it is, do not change a word.” In some Parallel Universe, Parallel Allison is receiving just that note. She is Parallel Thrilled.

Here though, I’m all wound up and thinking hard, gnashing my teeth and weeping a little inside. It’s all about details. More and more and more details. Building the best book that I can. The sheer, hard graft of writing.

And I will take all the lessons I’m learning to the second draft of my second book. Hopefully getting better each time, making the process that bit easier each time. Because I want there to be more times.

And one day, maybe I’ll get that Parallelย  Editor’s Note. (A girl can dream, right?)


  1. F o F

    I decided I wasnt going to be a writer after hearing an author who has since won many prizes now but at the time was 10 years into her 18th draft of that particular book which ended up making her career. STick with it if you believe in it

  2. Lipgloss Mumma

    I think many underestimate the time and sheer hard work that goes into writing. It is not simply tapping away on the keyboard under a shady tree or in a local cafe and then pressing publish. When you get so involved in the book and the characters and finally come up for air, sometimes you don’t want to go back under. It can be torturous when you invest so much and then have to revisit. But you will dive back in and come back an even better writer. I can’t wait! x

  3. Diminishing Lucy

    I just cannot wait to read them. Xx

  4. Allison Rushby

    I actually winced when I saw this was about edit letters. So cruel! Yet so necessary. Unfortunately, my first edit letter was less than a page long (no idea how I fluked that one…) and, thus, I thought all edit letters should be under one page. Ha ha ha. No. Most of my others have been between 10 and 15 pages. Sadly. Very, very sadly. Miserably, even. Anyway, just dive in there and, you know, come up for breath occasionally! Or at least for Tim Tams.

  5. Lisa@RandomActsOfZen

    So very inspirational Allison! Please keep us up on the whole process x

  6. Deb

    Oh… it must be hard to get your head back into something you’ve (essentially) moved on from. Good luck! Am also sure it will be worth it in the end.


  7. Donna

    If you were good enough to get this far, take heart that you will still be good enough to get to that golden finish line. You are truly talented, you will go get em on this!

  8. Bachelor Mum

    Perhaps just see this step as starting again so that you draw on fresh inspiration rather than thinking you’ve already sent your best and are scraping the bottom to find any more. It’s. A journey … I know, that doesn’t help but you will do it x

  9. River

    It’s a bit like having children. You learn so much with the first one, which is then applied to the second one. By child #3 you’re so experienced, you’re positively coasting along on auto pilot.

  10. Jelly Babies

    Keep going! Re drafting can be a pain but so worth it in the end!

  11. Alison P

    I like what Karen said.

    It must be dispiriting having to go back and delve back down and bring out something more. But just think how close you are now….Just keep swimming…..

  12. Corenne Tavares

    Well you’ve inspired me to write (I’ve actually got just over 5000 words down) so I know you’ve got it in you to get through the 3rd draft of the 2nd revision of the 1st novel (or something like that) ๐Ÿ˜‰ Hang in there

  13. ruddygood

    Dream on, my sweet… ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. ruddygood

    Dream on, my sweet… ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. ruddygood

    Dream on, my sweet… ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Cath

    Alli, it will be worth it for all those people out there like me who will read it! Think of us as you work through your edits, please!!!

  17. NessofBoganville

    As someone who usually buys most of her books second hand or borrows them from the library, now that I’m realising how much work, time and effort a writer puts into a novel, I’m definitely re-thinking that.

    Can’t wait to read the final product!

  18. therhythmmethod

    My girlfriend has just finished the edits on her own manuscript. Her publisher said “if it was fabulous enough to be accepted for publication, it’s damned perfect now.”
    You’re just aiming for perfect. Polishing, sculpting, digging. Like gardening, but even more rewarding. On yer bike!

    • allison tait

      I can’t tell you how heartened I am by these words Karen. ๐Ÿ™‚

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