I was very fortunate to land myself one of the beautiful proof copies of Sara Barnard’s Goodbye, Perfect and have thoroughly enjoyed worming my way through it. I was completely transfixed by the characters and am incredibly excited for it to come out in full publication glory in February. It was captivating, honest, and blooming fab! I love Barnard and don’t deny she is definitely my girl crush.
But seeing the proof got me thinking about how much goes into the publishing process and how long it takes for a story to go from being a blank word document to a bound and beautifully marketed book.
Once I finished the book and put it down (and after a ‘I’m-sad-that-it’s-over-but-feel-better-brew’) I sat for quite a long time just staring at it and then at my own word document which was open on my laptop. It made me realise that the book I’d just read was once a Word Document, being edited, read, reread, deleted. Just like mine.
We’re in the middle of NaNoWrMo at the minute (National Novel Writing Month) and, although I’m not taking part, I have been using it as motivation to try and up my word count.
I felt that the beautifully bound book I had in my mind was so far away, but looking at my word document made me realise it’s a lot closer than it could be (18,583 words closer to be exact.)
In November alone I’ve written 6,000 of these words. Now, to some people, that’s nothing, but to me, it’s huge (especially seen as I wasn’t actually in the country for one week.)
I realised, sitting between my unfinished manuscript and Barnard’s proof, that the key to writing is reading. It is such a catalyst to great words and great works. I struggled to keep on top of reading when I began my manuscript, especially reading for pleasure. I was too deep in thick research and books I would never usually choose to read that I lost my way with reading.
This year, since I’ve started the MA, I’ve found my way back. Although it’s not always for pleasure, I find that I’m reading a lot of good stuff which is helping to nourish my own work.
Reading Goodbye, Perfect made me realise that the challenge of writing really is worth it. That the pudding really is sweet and delicious and worth the trials and tribulations the process brings.
So, read. It doesn’t even have to be a book. Read the ingredients on the cereal box, read the road signs, read the adverts on the bus.
The words do wonders to your own.