I’ve finally finished editing the first draft of 1:58 and if there is anything I have learnt from this experience of using a red pen on my own work it is this – I can be brutal. Many writers say that they don’t like to ‘kill their darlings’ but I found it quite easy to use my inner-editor to cross out sections that didn’t work, be brutally honest about my use of clichés and accept that there were parts of my novel that just didn’t work.
I had a dream a few nights ago about my novel, when I woke up I realised all of the mistakes I was making with my story and I quickly jotted them down. I’m going to make some major changes, from the name of the novel to the events that take place in the narrative. It’s still the same story in many ways and I am keeping the characters that I have grown to love but the novel didn’t excite me when I read it back. If it doesn’t excite me, then it’s definitely not going to excite a reader.
This is the first time I have completed a novel and edited my own work, so it’s an entirely new process for me. I am excited to get started on the second draft, it may take three or four drafts before this novel is ready but I’m willing to put the hard work in to really create the best story I possibly can. No one said it would be easy. Ernest Hemmingway once said “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” A little dramatic but he definitely has the right idea.
The frosty air is icy cold against my skin; it must be time for winter once again. I walk down a familiar street. I have my scarf wrapped around my neck and earmuffs protecting my ears from the howling wind. I try and look ahead but the pressure of the wind is gushing against my face. The air smells fresh, I can smell damp. It must have rained earlier that day, I thought. I can still taste the hot chocolate I had moments before and I still feel its warmth. The wind intertwines with the branches of the nearby trees.
I’ve been walking for a while now and the air appears to be getting colder. I look up at the pale white sky, no patches of blue in sight. A few minutes later I feel a snowflake land on my cheek, the snow begins to fall softly at first. I don’t have far to go now before I reach the place I have been longing to visit. I couldn’t face this day a year ago, still battled with grief I refused to go there.
Minutes later the snow emerged from the sky. The white flakes fall like shooting stars. I was almost there. I walked past an old Victorian styled house; I could smell a burning coal fire. I didn’t like this smell. It reminded me of a burning bonfire on a crisp November’s night not so long ago. The smoke rose out of the chimney and it filled my lungs with the dirty soot, I coughed violently. I only had a few more yards to go and I could feel the pit of my stomach twisting into knots of anticipation. I stood at the iron gates. I had come all of this way, I had to do it now. I tumbled across the uneven ground and there it was.
My mother’s grave stone. I could taste sick in my mouth, it hadn’t occurred to me it would be this hard. My throat was dry. I looked at the ancient stone walls surrounding the church. They reminded me of another place. I knelt down, holding back the tears. The pain of guilt overwhelmed me. My heart sank like a bottomless pit as I began to relive the memories of my mother and me. I miss her. I want to be with her right now. I am finally here to say goodbye, finally facing the demons of the past year. I choked back the tears. “Hello mum” I croaked.