I have finished writing A Simple Irish Farmer. And I am glad. It's undoubtedly been the most arduous project of all the books I've completed, although Olives took many more years to become complete and Beirut and Shemlan both underwent major re-writes post-completion.
One of the things that has made this one harder is likely my clearer and sounder understanding of what the hell it is I'm trying to do here. Actually following the advice I dole out so glibly when I do workshops and presentations on writing and editing. There have also been some major changes taking place in my life alongside the book project, which have been a little distracting, to say the least. And, yes, I'm going to go on about the Dunning/Kruger effect again.
I started the book a year ago, almost to the day. There have been weeks when I haven't touched it. Days when I wrestled with it and was tempted to ditch the whole thing. Gnawing angst, delirious joy, certitude, doubt. All of that. A real roller-coaster. Right now, I'm quietly satisfied.
I'd like to pause and thank Fred Venturini here. I've no idea who the hell he is, but he wrote one of those 'Five Things You Must Do When Writing A Book' sort of articles/blog posts and, rarely for me because I usually avoid them like the plague, I read Fred's.
Four of them were the same sort of advice everyone else has to give, but his fifth point was 'Whatever you do, finish the book. Don't get involved in side projects, start something else or otherwise kid yourself. Hunker down, man up and just finish the damn thing'. I'm paraphrasing and you'll clearly see Fred's outraged howls in the comments to this post at some stage.
But I printed out the word FINISH in big capitals - and Fred's name underneath so I wouldn't forget where the advice came from - and hung the piece of paper on the blind in front of my desk. And then I set out to do just that. Every time I wanted to nip off to Twitter or exfoliate my Pinterest, I'd look at that word and get back down to it. And it worked.
Thanks, Fred. Really thanks.
Now what? A big fat edit. Beta readers. Agents. Depending on the outcome of that process, publish or self publish. I've no problem doing the latter, but I'd clearly prefer the former. If the latter, I won't be doing a local print run again. And I'm really not sure how much energy I'll be putting into promotion, either. I have the feeling the book will be controversial, which I'm not really looking forward to, to be honest. But that's a long way down the road.
But we'll see. Meanwhile, onward with the editing!
* The image is an Easter Lily badge, traditionally worn by Irish Republicans in the same way Brits wear a poppy. It's mine - Sarah got me one and I had it laminated into a bookmark.