Lost in a manuscript…

I’ve been a little quieter than usual the past few days. This is partially because I’ve helped my parents move house, and also because I am in that strange timeless zone I like to call ‘finishing a book’…

It is during this time that the following things happen:

1) I stop communicating with the outside world almost entirely because I am so lost in my latest manuscript. I lose all social skills and the ability to compose a decent text message or hold any kind of coherent/interesting conversation (bar the odd tweet or inane Facebook comment.)

2) I forget to eat some days. Normally breakfast and lunch are the first meals to go, followed by the realisation at 6.30pm that I am absolutely ravenous (and the subsequent pig-out session that goes with it.)

3) I cannot stop thinking about the characters. I am dreaming about them, I am pondering their next move while brushing my teeth, I’m wondering how they would like their toast, or how many sugars they would have in their tea. It’s giving me a headache.

4) I forget to brush my hair, and do other stuff that civilised people do like washing up. My writing space looks… well… bloody awful. I should be ashamed of myself.

5) When I do eventually crawl out into the daylight, it is all VERY bright. Think The Gremlins at a fireworks display and you’ve just about got it.

6) I have been writing so furiously that letters are actually jumbling before my very eyes and I can no longer spell quite basic words. This both shocks and worries me.

7) I am in a world where time no longer means anything, the only significant break is to step outside to get a few breaths of fresh air or have a coffee and I very much resent having to leave the laptop, for anything.

Ok, this is all a little exaggerated for comedy value…. but I’m sure lots of other writers will be able to relate to this. It this part of writing a book where I really do find myself in a ‘zone’.

During the first three quarters of the novel writing process I’m certainly glued to it, but there’s a real marked difference for me when I am getting to those last, few vital chapters.

Naturally that’s because the last few chapters close the story. The plot that you have carefully thought up, discussed with your editor, turned inside out and upside down is happening right here, right now, in Microsoft Word. (Yipeee!)

The last few chapters always hold, in my opinion, the most exciting bits. There’s the big reveal (or reveals), the crunch moments, the ‘I love you’s’, the closed doors, the new beginnings… It’s one of the most fantastic parts of the process, in my opinion, and yet the most antisocial too.

I have two chapters left to write of my third book. I plan to finish the first draft tomorrow, before it then goes through a rigorous editing process. I have no idea if I have hit on something really special, or if I have written 112,000 words of absolute dross. Clarity will only come during the re-reads and luckily there is plenty of time to perfect it. It’s daunting, but very exciting.

Friends and family, I will be back out in the wide world very soon… my hair brushed and everything…

I’ve missed you!


4 thoughts on “Lost in a manuscript…

  1. My husband really likes this phase; he says it ‘frees him up nicely!’
    Total immersion followed by the joy of re-surfacing with an explosion of bubbles! I empathise! Thank you. I enjoyed this a lot.

  2. Yes! I thought it was just me and that I’m a bit mad. It’s magic to be so in the zone isn’t it. I get to the stage where I expect to meet the characters at the shops or in the street 🙂 I really enjoyed your post.

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