…by my editor. No, you scandalmongers, it’s not as scandalous as you thought, but it did make me think.
You see, a month ago, I really wanted to finish my second book, Hidden Elements. The main body of the story was there and I was happy with it. The ending, however, wasn’t. The timelines of my books stick closely to the actual events of the Thirty Years War, which often gives me a framework within which I can work my plot. The end of Book II was no different – an ambush, against the run of the war, and the Emperor barely escapes with his life – it was there, served to me on a plate. Or so I thought…
The problem was, I was so desperate to finish the book, I didn’t think about whether that was the right ending. I didn’t care about what my readers would think, what questions would remain unanswered, so I wrote two chapters and pronounced the book finished. Until last night, that is, when my editor sent me an SMS saying she had deleted seventeen pages and I needed a new ending.
You can imagine my chagrin when I got that message, which only got worse when I realised she was right. This wasn’t my best work. Far from it, in fact. I remember a partner at Deloitte, (in a past life), refusing to even look at a report unless it was of sufficient quality. He would stare at me and quietly ask, “Is this the best you can do?” Eventually I cottoned on to the fact that all I had to do was say yes, assuming that it was indeed my best work.
I don’t know why I thought that writing a book would be any different. I’ve already written one, so it’s not the hubris of the beginner. I think I was so focused on the finishing post that I lost sight of what was important. Thankfully, my editor wasn’t going to accept second-rate work. OK, maybe she could tone down the aggression a little to save my ego, but she was 100% right.
I’ve now had 24 hours to reflect on the experience, and I’m grateful that someone cared enough to tell me the truth, even if it was painful to hear.
I just need to prove that her faith hasn’t been misplaced. Better get writing…