This past week has been a whirlwind. Anxiety, relief, fear, joy - multiplied to infinity. As the reviews for "Absolution" slowly filter through, the anxiety has eased slightly and the fear, although still there, is no longer so overwhelming. Apparently, my baby might find an audience after all. Despite not being able to be pigeon-holed in any particular genre, despite being on the long side and being a first novel, people seem to like it (well, the ones who have reviewed it anyway). I'm fully aware that it may not be everyone's cup of tea, but my expectations were always fairly low: as long as no one flames it for no good reason, I'm willing to take notes.
So, while one baby has flown the coop, it's time to get the next baby ready for it's solo flight.
Three years ago, I finished writing "Anniversary", with the intention of going back to it "at some stage". I use this term, "at some stage", a lot. I know this. I'm an impatient person. I'm usually in such a hurry to get the next story out, I'm happy to leave the last one behind (and all it's problems). But, well, there comes a time when you need to just put on your big girl knickers, hike them way up and just get on with it.
So, after a week of throwing around possible new titles, I've settled on one which:
A) I like.
B) Hasn't been used a hundred times before (courtesy of an Amazon search).
So, now "Anniversary" has become "Between Before and After". In typical Amanda Dick style (procrastinator extraordinaire), I then created a playlist (very important - need mood music). Then I mocked up a cover with a print I found online (to set the mood). With all of this important (hmmm) ground-work laid, it was time to get down to the business of writing. Or editing. The lines tend to blur, especially with this story.
I've decided to split the story into three parts (not books, parts). Each part covers the same weekend - the anniversary of Danny's death - one year, two years and three years on. Effectively, this means I have to re-write the manuscript, as it wasn't written this way initially. I was afraid that this would end up being a LOT more work, but as it turns out, it's not going to be as time-consuming as I thought.
Why not? Well, I think because I spent a year with these characters when I wrote the initial draft. I know them now. Also, I'm seeing them with fresh eyes. I have had the luxury of distance (three years of it!). As far as self-editing goes, this is a bonus.
Today, I wrote the prologue and beginning of part 1, chapter 1. Almost 1,000 words, which doesn't sound like a lot, but if I can do this each day, this thing will be ready for beta-reading in no time! There is a lot in the first draft that basically makes up the final part of the story, so most of the new writing I need to do covers the first and second parts.
Changes. Yes, there are a lot of those! I've changed the setting back to New Zealand (Auckland, Wellington - briefly - Picton and the Marlborough Sounds). I wasn't totally sure about this to begin with, but now that I've given it a lot of thought and had a play in that sandbox, I think it's going to work. I hope. I'm also changing the ending (those who read the original will probably thank me for that!).
As for the title, "Between Before and After", it means many things. Mainly though, it refers to the time after a loved one dies, when you're in limbo. You're waiting for the world to right itself again, for life to pick you up and dust you off and send you on your way. You're wanting to be a human being again, to leave the pain behind, but you don't know how and you don't want to lose any precious memories in the process. It's a balancing act.
I'm looking forward to sharing it with you, maybe giving you a few teasers along the way. If you want them, that is :-)