So what have I been doing whilst I've not been here? Scaring myself witless, that's what.
Anyone new to this blog won't know that I harbour a burning ambition to be a novelist. (I might have mentioned it once or twice since the idea first planted itself in my head in 2009!)
Since then, I have written three and three quarter novels and worked my way through almost two thirds of a degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and entered oodles of short story competitions (with limited success.). This is all very commendable but in truth, I'm no closer to my ambition than I was when I started.
Last summer, I went to a talk where three published authors talked about their journey. It was fascinating and I soaked it all up. But as I wandered homewards, I began to ask myself what they could do that I couldn't. I can string a sentence together. I had manuscripts. Yes, they needed work but they weren't too bad, I thought.
And then I hit a wall. What would be the point of spending forever editing a manuscript if it was never going to be any good? After all you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. And how would I know if what I had so far was something that anyone would want to read without asking someone?
And so I began drip feeding one of my manuscripts out a chapter at a time. My idea was that I could ask people to read along and tell me what they thought, what they liked, what they hated and so by the end, I would have a feel for whether what I had was worth further effort or whether I should put it in a virtual drawer with the others and start again, again.
I blogged about what I intended to do quickly to make it harder to change my mind and then in August I began posting chapters.
Scary doesn't even scrape the surface. Not only was I putting my money where my mouth was but I was doing it with a product that was only in it's first draft. And I was asking people to give up time to help me with ostensibly nothing in it for them. And I had to market it and keep it in people's minds which meant shouting about it which doesn't come naturally to me. And I had to fight hard to bury the fear that the whole of Ilkley was laughing at me and my little dream. And I had to cope with the criticism whilst walking a thin line between not being defensive about my baby but remaining robust enough not to give up. Sleepless nights, sweaty armpits, tears and tantrums. I've had them all!
And now nearly five months later I am almost there. There are only a handful of chapters left and I am currently thinking about how I might collect feedback.The blog has had over 4,000 hits - not many in a commercial sense - but my stats suggest that I have a core group of around 50 people who have read all of it (mostly in secret as I have no idea who they are unless they tell me.)
Expect to hear more from me on this subject over the coming weeks when I get some feedback and have to decide what I'm going to do next. And in the meantime, I will sit here and sweat over the book's ending and hope that I don't disappoint anyone who has loyally stuck with me all the way through.
If you've missed the whole thing and are interested, then go over to Beyond Belief and check it out for yourself and please feel free to tell me what you think.