It starts off as an idea.
Then a few scribbles in a notebook. Sometimes, in a cafe.
Then more scribbles, and maybe a Post-It note plot.
Then it’s a nightmare. It’s hell. It’s ‘whydidIeverthinkIcoulddothis-Ican’tstringtwosentencestogether-auuuuuggghhhh!’
It’s words on a computer screen, tap tap tap.
That’s draft 1.
Then come drafts 2, 3, 5, 11 and 27. It’s ‘pleasecanyoureadthisforme-itdoesn’tmakesense-whydidIeverwanttodoit-auuuuggggh!’
Then your editor steps in with the much-needed structural edit. The other structural edit. The line edit. The copy edit. The proof. Word and Track Changes. Tap tap tap.
Email to the publisher.
Then you don’t see it for months. Woo!
Relief. Write the next book. (Or try.)
Then, out of the blue, a box arrives.
A few books down the line, you get to know what that box looks like. When your neighbour delivers it (yesterday), after a day spent researching the new book, and the launch party venue for the last one, you whoop with joy because …
It’s BOOKS! Actual printed copies of your book! Lots of them! With covers – a back and a front!
And an inside.
Your book has become an artefact. It’s a thing you can pick up and admire, read at night with your younger son, give as a thank-you-for-reading-to-me-and-believing-in-me copy to your mother. And your guitar teacher. And your friends.
It’s something you made, and can share, and be proud of.
If you’re lucky, it ends up on bookshelves.
And sometimes, it even ends up as a cake ….
With thanks to The Abbey School, who helped me with the early drafts of Love Song (check out our interview in The Guardian soon), and made the magnificent cake today. Keris Stainton, Susie Day and all my writer friends who gave me great advice when I needed it. And Bella Pearson, my editor, Helen Crawford-Wright, who did the beautiful illustrations inside and out, and everyone at Chicken House, for making it possible – and for making it.
This is not a love song. But it is a book.