Building a Book - by Joy Margetts

We are in the process of major renovation/remodelling works to our home. They have been a very long time coming. We bought this ‘dream house’ twelve years ago, and very soon realised that although it occupied a dream position, with stunning sea views all around, the fabric of the house was far more nightmare than dream. I used to joke that I would live in a shed on our plot; but as the years have gone on, and we have not got any younger, the need to do something drastic to avoid that very scenario has become finally necessary.

So what’s that got to do with writing you may well ask? Well, it has definitely had an affect on mine. Living in temporary accommodation for four months, and now back home with the renovations going on around us, I have found it difficult to concentrate for long periods of time. Or indeed find the space, physically or mentally, to continue work on my second full-length book. I have satisfied the writing urge with short stories, flash fiction pieces, and blog posts, to keep myself motivated. My unfinished novel sits languishing in a back corner of my laptop, calling to me from time to time - I open it up occasionally, as a goodwill gesture, just to reassure it that I will return to it … sometime. The whole of the building process, from hiring the architect, getting plans approved, finding an available building contractor, right through to the ‘how much of this can we do ourselves to save money ?’ stage, that we are now in, was new to us. It has been a steep learning curve in places. Getting my first book published was similarly a steep learning curve. But as the finished product – my debut novel ‘The Healing’ – was worth all the angst, so I am believing the finished renovations will be. Living through both processes, I could not help but see some parallels: 

 BUILD Stage ONE: Architect plans – putting our ideas onto paper in a workable way, that the builder can follow, and the planners approve of.
BOOK - Inspiration comes and a plotline develops in the imagination. Copious note taking and not inconsiderable research follows. Run the idea by a trusted friend or two if brave enough. 

 BUILD Stage TWO: Deconstruction and laying bare - ripping out of old, redundant features like walls, windows and doors, digging huge holes in the garden for foundations. 
 BOOK - self- critically scrub through notes and start again. Do more research, and then research some more. Make some more notes and ignore dubious opinions of aforementioned trusted friends. Oh, and lose sleep lying awake at night thinking up new characters, storylines and scenes. 

BUILD Stage THREE: Rebuilding and reconstruction – new walls go up, new windows and flat roof, plastering and making good. New electrics and plumbing installed. 
BOOK – take a fortifying breath, open computer and type maniacally, converting copious notes and research titbits into a coherent piece of writing. Finally a manuscript is completed (having taken much longer than anticipated and costing a lot more - emotionally at least). 

BUILD Stage FOUR: Finishing touches – kitchen and bathrooms fitted, walls painted, flooring laid, new furniture and curtains installed. 
BOOK -The editing process. The manuscript is fine tuned and made much lovelier, adding colour and beauty to the plain words. A cover design is produced and a blurb, and bio, and it’s beginning to very much look like a real book. Real people read it and endorse it for you. You pinch yourself until bruises appear.

BUILD Stage FIVE: Completion and the house warming party (only non-critical people invited!)
The BOOK is printed. The launch is announced. Party time!! (Self congratulation tempered by the fear of reviews and the enormity of the marketing challenge ahead.) 

We are currently in stage four with our renovations - it is an exciting time, seeing it all come together and we really can’t wait for stage five! But what about your writing? Does any of this sound familiar? What stage are you at and how soon do you wish you were out of it?! We have learnt much doing our build – things we might have done differently if we did it again (not happening!). What have you learnt about the writing process and would you do it differently next time?


Ruth Leigh said…
Yes!! 100%. This is exactly what it's like. Brilliant way of putting it, Joy.
Joy Margetts said…
Thank you Ruth! I forgot to mention how stressful both can be!
Dora William said…

Waiting for bloggers to read my book and post a review is tiring. I used to gather reviews for my book and I am happy with the increase in reviews, sales and visibility.

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