Novel #2, which I have spent over a year on now, is now being read by AgentSimon and OldMan.
No one has seen even a sentence of it before. I felt it was better to save it up for a whole airing. It would be like showing glimpses of a Christmas present before the big day.
But now I’m having second thoughts. Perhaps, for my own sake, I should have let out a few chapters before. Now, because the draft represents so much work and time, having it read makes this an extremely nervy time for me. AgentSimon is sending encouraging emails, which temper some of the paranoia I am feeling (he’s obviously dealt with a couple of writers before in his time). But I still have the nightmares: him asking me to send the real manuscript now, or calling me and saying in a deep and serious voice “Julia, we need to talk about this novel.”
And I don’t think there is much worse than having OldMan reading Novel#2 in bed next to me. It’s like having my insides examined without an anaesthetic. I’m even having trouble concentrating on Sophie Hannah’s marvellous and gripping Lasting Damage while OldMan’s there, printout in hand, reading glasses perched on his nose. I so want him to like it, I keep interrupting him to ask if he is enjoying it. I also feel the need to tell him repeatedly that the husband is fictional, the wife is fictional, the (not great) marriage is fictional and there is no resemblance whatsoever to persons or relationships living or dead.
But I am grateful that he is reading it. I really am.