So, no biggie or anything, but this weekend I finally finished that book I’ve been writing this year.
Well, the first draft, anyway. The very rough first draft. Is there a thing that’s rougher than a rough draft? Because my draft is rougher than that. I’m starting to wish I hadn’t even mentioned it now, actually, because mentioning it makes it A Thing, doesn’t it? Like, when I say I wrote a book, you’re probably picturing something that vaguely resembles, well, a book, right? But what it actually resembles is a really, really long blog post: the kind I hammer out in a fit of inspiration (Or, you know, emotion. What can I say: some people eat their feelings, I type mine…) (I eat them too, though. Hello, Cadbury’s Marvellous Creation Chocolate Bars!), and then think, “Yeah, I better not publish that one, because it’ll just make me sound like a whiny, emotional wreck, and I will cry into my pillow when no one comments on it.” It’s like THAT, basically.
(The book doesn’t have as many sets of parentheses as this post does, I promise.) (It does, though.)
“How did you feel when you finished it?” my mum asked when I broke the glad tidings on Saturday evening. And honestly, what I mostly felt was relief. I’d expected to feel a sense of elation and achievement if/ when I finally finished it, but was it happens I just felt relieved that it was finally done, so I could stop feeling guilty about it and get back to feeling guilty about other things instead. And also so that any time Terry says something like, “Amber, I can’t believe you pocket-dialled your own phone!” I can say, “Yeah, but I also wrote an entire book: how many books have YOU written, huh?”
(I’ll only really be able to use that one on people who haven’t written ANY books, obviously. If I tried it on someone like J.K. Rowling, say, that would just be embarrassing, wouldn’t it?)
It was a bit underwhelming really, probably because it isn’t actually finished yet: there’s still a huge amount of editing and re-writing to be done before I’ll consider it even close to being finished, so maybe that’s when I’ll really start to feel like I’ve achieved something? Or maybe I’ll just keep on feeling like I shouldn’t really mention it at all, because it’s not a real book?
I mean, a real book has a plot, and characters, and all that kind of stuff, doesn’t it? My book, meanwhile… well, it also has a plot and characters, but the characters are me and my family, and the “plot”, such as it is, is my life: specifically the part of it concerning That One Time My Fiancée Got Kidney Failure and It Felt Like the World Had Ended. (That’s not the title, by the way. Maybe a good tagline, though?) It’s a memoir, in other words. Which is weird in itself, because: a) I’m not famous and: b) I’m not even dead. Most of the people who write memoirs are at least one of the two (They’re ideally not dead when they actually write it, obviously, although in my case there were times when I did feel like I might be…), so I’m a little bit worried that when I tell people I wrote a memoir they’ll just be all, “Seriously? How self-important ARE you?” (That’s the point when I’ll mention I make a living by posting photos of myself on the internet, obviously. Because that will definitely challenge that particular assumption!)
The thing is, though, I may not ever publish this book, but I wanted to write it. I kind of felt like I needed to get it out of my system – to write it all down, tell the stories that had been niggling away at me for years, and which I’d never really found an outlet for. I don’t know why, but it’s always felt important to me to record those little details, even if I’m the only one who ever reads them, and now I have. So it’s the story of my life, and of a particularly hard part of my life at that: but it’s also a story about the nature of personal identity, about growing up, and about the little stories that make up our lives.
It’s a very rough draft, and it’ll take a lot of work to get it even close to “done”.
But it’s a start. That has to count for something, right?