It is a strange mixture of emotions. On one hand there is elation that a piece of work is completed; on the other there is a sense of loss. Last night I sent my latest effort to a publisher: Fort Publishing of Ayr, a company I have never before worked with. It is called A Glimpse at Dundee and is over 100,000 words long, which is the longest book I have ever written. Or rather the longest manuscript as it is a long way from being a book yet.
The effort of creation gets no easier: the tearing of words from inside oneself, the anguish over style, the worry what to leave out and what to include, the long hours of research and the frenzy when words tumble in a rush, followed by the sheer mental agony of editing. All writers know these things.
It is the parting that hurts. Is it complete or should I give it one last polish? Does it meet the requirements of the original contract? Is it too long? Too short? Does the style suit the subject?
Then there is the pain of parting with a child one has laboured so long to bring forth and the worry that one’s work is being critically scrutinised by another, who is thinking of commercial possibilities rather than literary flow or historical accuracy.
Mentally, physically and emotionally there is exhaustion, but also elation. That particular piece of work can be put aside now. It is out of my hands. Time to move on to the next. It is a machine-like process, this production line of words, of ideas, of dreams and phrases, anecdotes and historical reality, of the recipe of correct mixing of a thousand ingredients to create a reading cake suitable for all tastes.
God go with you, Glimpse at Dundee