I’m crazy nervous about My Christmas Number One coming out tomorrow, so I’m glad I still have book 2 to get on with. Except that I’m editing, rather than drafting, and I’m not sure I’m being useful anymore. But I’m also not sure I can send these guys off to my editor, yet.
I’m stuck. I love these characters way too much to edit them. Which is bad.
This book was my lockdown project. Not only did it keep me sane with the promise of a bit of writing after we’d got through homeschooling, something to distract me from the chaos of my house and my kids going crazy from the lack of company, I also poured all my hope and humour into this book to compensate for what was going on outside.
The book is set in northern Italy. Covid had arrived there by the time I started drafting and I wondered, at first, whether I was going to be able to get the words out, knowing the corridors of the hospital in Bergamo were overflowing with patients. As it turned out, my feelings of sympathy, fear and grief poured into the book, creating two characters who defy the times of grief and depression in life. It’s the most joyful thing I’ve ever written.
I enjoy writing characters with flaws and exploring ways of overcoming those flaws (even though I’m beginning to understand that can be a risk with readers…). But I didn’t have the stomach for it during lockdown. The heroine of book two, Lou, is warm and funny and friendly and charming. Her self-doubt is a bit overdeveloped, but that settles as she learns to adapt to the changes in her life. She has had a few difficult moments in her past, but she strives tirelessly forward, dragging everyone with her into a future she believes will be bright. The hero, Nick, is a bit stuck in the past, but he’s also kind and sensitive and a good listener. And he has big feelings he doesn’t always know what to do with.
And together, they are wonderful: hesitant, helplessly attracted to each other, painfully honest and utterly terrified of how big their love could be.
Somehow, I have to let them go. And next year I’ll be doing this again, watching reviews drop in (although I should probably stop doing that…) and hoping they find resonance with enough readers that I can do it all again with the characters who are cooking themselves up in my head right now (hint: it’s fun and involves lederhosen…).
But I’d better get back to it.