THE MANUSCRIPT

There’s a stack of paper on my usually clear desk. It stands about a centimetre high and is printed with two pages on each sheet of A4. However, instead of leaping to file it somewhere as I might normally do, I keeping gazing at it fondly, even stroking it as I pass by.

It’s my manuscript of course. The culmination of almost a year of tapping away before the milkman arrives. And I am surprised by how many words I have managed to string together. I have checked the counter on the page at regular intervals to encourage myself but I could only ever see my work a page at a time. Now that it’s all there in a pile, all those words, I’m quite taken aback by it.

I didn’t know it was finished when I typed what has turned out to be the last line so it was a bit anticlimactic . I had a new twist in the tale which I had opened up in the previous chapter and I was preparing to continue along that vein. Then one day, having cleared the decks to tackle another few pages, I opened the document, read the last few lines of the previous chapter and decided that it was complete. What happened next in the story was for the reader to fathom. It was the strangest feeling. I just knew it was done.

And so I left it for a week or so, thinking about where I’d stopped writing and whether I’d made a mistake, whether the reader really did want it spelling out for them. Eventually, though, I decided that they did not. After all I could go on for ever with the twisting, turning lives of my characters. It had to reach a conclusion at some point.

Of course the manuscript is not finished. It needs my erratic spelling checking, I need to identify words which the spell checker has ignored but which are clearly wrong and I need to see if I think it’s any good. I have no idea when I will get round to that. I have enough trouble keeping up with the reading that I have to do as it is, let alone make time for a critical appraisal of a whole extra book.

So I’ll put it in a folder and get to it when I can. Maybe after Christmas or when my course finished for the summer. In the meantime, I am now a novelist (albeit an unpublished one)!  My ambition was to write a novel and that I have done. And I’m pleased.

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