Something I always said, but didn’t grasp the full reality of: Anyone can write if they try, but not everyone can publish a book, let alone a good one. By and bye, as I work on my manuscript of ‘The Runaway Courtesan,’ I’m coming to see how true the statement is. It was great fun writing the first draft of TRC. But revising the draft…now, this is pure labour (one that can be enjoyed at times). So much effort needs to be put into polishing a manuscript that it sometimes feels endless. And I imagine those great works like Anna Karenina (I haven’t read it, but I know it’s a BIG book). Imagine how much effort Tolstoy had put into this work of his! So now, when I open a book considered to be good, the beat of my heart quickens, because the content before me are not just words to read and enjoy, but each chapter, each page, each paragraph, each sentence…there’s a history behind it, that of the author’s struggle, joy, desperation, sorrow.
My story is that I’ve revised TRC (complete at 90,000+ words) at least ten times now but still this manuscript seems very far from being polished. Like my acquaintance Sarah Maas said, I need to put “110% effort into publishing TRC before sending it in to agents, because they’re just as picky (if not more so, I’ve heard) as publishers, and don’t want to acquire a project that they have to do a lot of work on. They want a book they can sell to publishers ASAP.” Over the year, I had to write new scenes, omit some, rewrite several. For sections like chapter ten of TRC, I had to rewrite the whole piece five times and still I’m not satisfied: I would spend hours planning then writing one scene only to delete it all to write a different one. Also, I need to research every single thing in my work just to make sure it’s historically accurate. I need to use the correct Regency phraseologies (thankfully Flora helps me out a lot with this). But, though this journey to only the FIRST step of publication is exhausting, if you love your story enough, I have full confidence that it’ll be worth all the work. As Joyce Carol Oates observed: with writing, “the satisfaction is in the effort, and rarely in the consequent rewards, if there are any.” And I agree whole-heartidly with her statement. There is this inexplicable, addictive pleasure in the effort of revising/developing the manuscript. In a sense, a writer is somewhat like a mother, for her joy is in watching her child grow. Well…I think. I’ve never had a child, so I wouldn’t know for sure. But I think it’s a pretty decent analogy.