Friday, 28 May 2010


For the past two months I've been up to my neck in the new novel, writing around 4,000 words a day, living and breathing and dreaming my characters and plot. Now, as the first full draft is nearly done, I'm experiencing a period of mental readjustment that I'm sure is entirely usual but with which I could use any tips or advice on offer. I'm grieving a little for my characters, not wanting to say goodbye, which sounds like twaddle but doesn't feel that way. I've become horrible misanthropic these last few days, aware that I'm about to enter a phase which requires I stop holding the rest of the world at bay and rejoin the human race. Does anyone have any recommendations as to the best way to go about this? I'm not a very sociable being at the best of times; my instinct is to withdraw and spend time alone but I sense that's not what I need (although, oh! for a week in a faraway spa, all by myself). Exercise, diet and/or mental stimulus suggestions would all be most welcome. Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Years ago, when I was at school & writing (very bad) spy novels, I was always bereft when my characters signalled that yes, this was the end, they were through. I think your current feelings are perfectly normal. I suggested elsewhere chocolate & bananas, before I'd seen this post; il still holds, of course, but I'd also say "if you do love them, think of all the fanfic you can write for your own creations!" Characters always stay with us, the good ones at any rate. (It's a test - we forget the cliché'd ones.)

It's a BOOK! It's YOUR BOOK! Rejoice!

Julie Corbin said...

First of all, Sarah - Well Done! Super, dooper, hats off to you, well done! What an achievement. (4,000 words a day - incredible.)
I'm at the copyediting stage of my second novel - holding on to it for as long as I can. Already trying to work out how I might be able to bring my favourite characters back into a future story. It was very hard for me to let go of a couple of the characters in my first novel but you know what? I've found out that you don't have to say goodbye to them. For a start, you'll have further drafts to write. Sometimes these people you've created won't do what you want and you'll become quite fed up and want to see the back of them. Other times, you'll grow more fond of them. And then, when it's published, you'll discuss them with readers who, you'll discover, love them more than you do.
When I finish any draft - and my second novel has taken four - I have two weeks off. I think about what I've written and scribble notes to myself, but I don't read it and I don't talk about it. Then when I've caught up with friends and family and spent a lot of time out doors - dog walking, an artist's date to the Portrait Gallery or Windsor castle, collecting shells on the beach - anything that fills me up, as I always feel quite empty and bereft - then I go back to the computer. It feels momentous. I print out the whole lot, sit down on a comfy chair with a pot of tea and a red pen and read it from beginning to end with fresh eyes and a 'reader's' head. I spot all the clunky writing and plot holes and then go back to the computer for another rewrite.
But for now - take time to celebrate!

Sarah Hilary said...

Thanks, Shezan and Julie, great suggestions for me to try here.

Jenzarina said...

It may sound simple but I find going for even short walks clears my head and re-connects me to the outside world, whether it's town, country or even just the local street.

Sarah Hilary said...

Hi Jen, yes, walking is wonderful, especially since it has people-watching built-in.