I started my novel - an historical set in the 1820s about essayist William Hazlitt and his doomed love affair with serving girl Sarah Walker - in 2008. It was skeletal in form back then, the dissertation for my Masters in Creative Writing, but I knew before I'd even started it that I wanted to make it into something bigger. However, after graduating, life got in the way. A lot. And I procrastinated badly. While the bulk of the research had been done, I didn't really get started on the novel until 2011 when I began to tie up loose research ends. Another two years slipped by and before I knew it I had a research folder fit to bursting, a desk collapsing under the weight of Hazlitt biographies and London's history, a flimsy foundation of a novel ... and not much else. In 2014, it was time to take action.
I'm not going to harp on about the set-backs. It all came down to the fact that the lack of novel was all my own doing; I should have actually sat down and written something instead of talking about it as much as I did. It is finally done now though, I am pleased (and relieved) to say. A polished manuscript that I think is worthy of an agent's attention. And in the end, if I remove the set-backs, the whole novel only took me about a year and a half to complete. I'd break it down as follows:
6 months of research
3 months of writing
9 months of edits and rewrites
There is still a journey to go yet. Hopefully, someone will want to represent my novel and they will then have their own editorial thoughts for me to work through until it is eventually ready to be sent to publishing houses. Then of course, said publishing houses have to show an interest, and the chosen one will likely require more edits before the novel would be ready to be released on the world. I'm still not done.
Getting a novel published is a long, tiring road. But at least I've finally got to the point where I can see the light at the end of the tunnel once more. I just have to play the waiting game now. It took me six years while I battled the recession, the busy day job, and all other kinds of dramas in between, but I got there in the end. And I swear, if I'm lucky enough to get published it won't take me that long again - I have a whole set of novel ideas on the go that I've been itching to start for months.
Please keep your fingers crossed for me. For the moment, I'm going to actually try and experience the joy of a good night's sleep for the first time in over a year!