A lot of people ask me how long it took to write my book. I find this hard to answer. I had the original idea for a book and started writing what was the bare bones of Tumble way back in 1999 (I bet some of you reading this weren’t even born then) and it was a very different book. It had a girl who was a dancer but that was the only thing that remained from the book today. Even the main characters name changed!
In the meantime I had begun writing what is known in our house as the “epic”. A historical novel that I hope one day will see the light but I found the research of it all was stopping me writing. A writer friend of mine said “just write” but when you’re constantly making notes in the MS like “check this”, “did this happen” “was this even around then?” it’s quite frustrating and my writing was stilted. I’m someone who gets an idea, writes out a rough story outline and goes from there. If I need more research I’ll do it while I’m working on my story. You can’t do this with historical fiction. I love those characters in my epic so, so much that I hope one day you’ll meet them. It’s just a speck in the distance at the moment but it’s a speck and I haven’t lost sight.
Frustrated, and countless projects started in the meantime, I mentioned this all to my husband (often the voice of reason to my melodramatic reasoning) who told me to finish my YA MS as a test and see what happens. That test turned into TUMBLE and I fell in love. Hard.
I pulled out my horrible teenage ramblings and realised I had a corpse I could revive. Keep the main character as a dancer but add in my experience with rhythmic gymnastics and circus arts. I was a rhythmic gymnast and coach for over 10 years and in that time I had trained and coached with gymnasts and acrobats. Add a love triangle. Bingo. I had my idea.
The story changed as I wrote (I am most definitely a panster not a plotter) and after many, many MANY edits (I’ll write about this on a later post) I had my book. Scenes and ideas would come to me randomly while driving and hearing a piece of music, while I was doing the dishes or having a shower. All very inconvenient places to be struck by creative genius and will often find me rambling and repeating my idea over and over again until I find a piece of paper and a pen to write it down.
If I get an idea I date it and write it in a notebook or sometimes even start a word document with whatever it is that struck me; an opening line, a scene, a comeback etc. So if you count the very first, very shitty draft of what was to become Tumble, you could say it has taken me 17 years to write Tumble. But in reality it was probably two to three years from first completed draft to printed book and ebook. In between that I had life and work comittments, adopted a dog, got married, adopted another dog, had a baby. I became a lot better at discipline and found I was writing more the further I got in the MS and Tumble was a great test. I know I can write a book now. I have written a book and although it has been one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, it’s one of the things I am most proud about as well.