When is enough actually enough?

I’m sure I’ve bored my friends, certainly all my writing friends, with news of how I am getting on with my next novel; just in case you haven’t read my comments about it, this is a novel I began to write about ten years ago, finished about five years ago, and has been sitting on my virtual shelf ever since.

When I wrote it I was still working, and writing was squeezed in between teaching, child-care, house-work (not much of that!) and other everyday stuff. I think I decided to write a ‘proper’ novel, and not the usual thriller/action stories I had been writing over the years, and I think having read so much John le Carré I might have been influenced by him; however, he is a great writer, I’m just a writer… The result was a monster of a book, over 300,00 words long, although it just covered a year in the life of a family.

Two things inspired me – although this isn’t the story of either, the first was my own dear family – we holiday at Easter together each year, up to thirty of us in a big house for a week! We have a wonderful time – and so did my imaginary family, the Portbraddons, but that is the only thing which is the same. The Portbraddons have a rather domineering grandma – although they don’t recognise her as such, and when she dies, the six cousins’ relationships change and deteriorate as they fall out with each other. The other inspiration was the stories my husband told about all the different bands he has been in, groups of people who were so close for several years then split, sometimes in a dramatic and even violent way. The press is always full of such stories, bands who have been together for years, managing all the different and difficult members, then something happens and they split.

So that is the background. I want to get my story off the virtual shelf, and into the virtual bookshop so for the last six months I have been editing it. It is now cut by a third (I am very repetitive) a lot of the conversation has been slashed (endless witter a lot of it) and it has been tightened up so the dramatic parts seem more dramatic (night club brawls, ‘territorial’ disputes between gangs, dodgy property scams involving shady people, punch-ups…) and the personal stories are less emotional and clichéed.

I think it’s quite good (I have to be modest!) and I want to make it the best I can , but this self-editing could go on forever. I could spend another year fiddling and tweaking it, and even then, I’m sure I would want to reread it, re-edit it one more time. There has to be a stopping point; there has to be a time when I think enough is enough, I have done as much as I can.

I have other stories I want to write – I am three-quarters of the way through the next Radwinter story, probably to be called ‘Earthquake’, and there is another one about bodies beneath the patio, river mermaids, a stalker, and the complications which arise when someone accidentally picks up the wrong bag as he gets off a train. I have another story which is almost finished about a missing wife, and another barely started about middle-aged love… plus a story I wrote several years ago which has potential if I rewrote it… plus a children’s story about a carousel horse…

Can I really give another six months, nine months to this book, basically just fiddling about? I think I must set myself a severe deadline… and if there are a couple of typos or punctuation errors or grammatical mistakes, then I will correct them for the second edition!

If you haven’t read my other novels, here is a link:

By the way, my featured image has nothing to do with my family saga, it is just a picture I like!

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