I started writing a book in August 2009 that from the start I called ‘Crowbar Junction.’ An idea came to me one afternoon as I sat in the backroom of the house I lived in at the time; it was more of an image than an idea- A young boy, dressed in grey clothing, tweedy, at the side of the road, waiting for someone who was never coming back for him.
From there, my story grew and I knew a lot of things straight off- characters, setting and era. it all fell into place over the course of a couple of days in my mind and a few sheets of yellow legal pad paper. This was by far the most clearly outlined story I had ever come up with. I knew the opening scene and the final one and had plenty of ideas for the middle ones- but that was when I realised how literary I wanted this story to be. It was going to be a work of art instead of simply a story. This is where the trouble began.
I had the notion in my head that I would be able to write a better book if I did it by hand first and then typed it up. At the beginning, I loved writing with my nice engraved Cross pen in my lovely brown leather notebook (both bought for me by my wife- whom I’d only started dating not long before this), working through the images in my head and getting them down on paper. The mistake at that time was not writing by hand, but being so hard on myself while I was writing. Because I wanted this book to be literary I felt every sentence had to be right, or at least very good from the start. This resulted in days upon days when only a single paragraph would be produced and this was no pace to get a sprawling story written.
At last, I knew what I had to do – get a first draft completed! With this in mind, I took to the laptop where I had typed all of the work so far and continued on there- I never wrote another word of the book with a pen. I wrote and wrote and then came to an end of the storyline. It was done- well the first draft was. I read it all and I was very happy with what I had but I knew that there was still so much work to be done to make it what I wanted it to be.
I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do that work without taking a rest from this book and coming back to it with fresh eyes. I needed to focus on something else for a while, so at this time I began writing much less serious stuff and then set about my self-publishing career. I had so many ideas for books and I tried out many; some I abandoned and others were published to Amazon, but all the while I was working on these other projects the big one was still lurking in my mind.
Every now and then I would think of something to add or take away from ‘Crowbar Junction,’ and these little bits went on and on. A full year after finishing the first draft (which had taken almost three years in the first place) I decided to rewrite the entire book one sentence at a time. This took me a few months but it was worth it. What came out of this exercise was a book that was larger and much better than the first draft. I really started to understand what this book was truly about and this was a wonderful feeling for a writer to get.
I went back to other projects and wrote more books and started freelancing on a more regular basis and this took up all of my time.
Another year passed and I went through the book on a chapter by chapter basis making more changes and adding notes for myself as I went along. It was starting to become something close to what I had set out to do- but not close enough, not yet. I wrote some scenes set long before the story of the book takes place that will not be included in the final book but to get myself more immersed in the storyline and its history. I found this very helpful as well for getting a better understanding of the characters in the book.
As things stand, ‘Crowbar Junction’ is 123,000 words long, but probably only needs one more draft before a few rounds of editing makes it final. It has taken seven years so far- only a few more to go to finish my masterpiece!
I’d love to hear from anyone who is also writing what you consider to be your best book. Do you have the same issues I do about it? Are you trying to be so perfect that the book will never live up to your expectations? What have you done to finish your won books? How many of you have abandoned the ‘one’ after years of heartbreak on it?
On another point, if the book is as good as you hope it will be, isn’t there always the temptation to keep it all for yourself?
Let me know what you think in either the comments below or you can email me at email@example.com