It’s hard to put the crazy, brilliant, annoying and rewarding journey of writing my debut novel, Moondust, into words. So I put it into numbers instead.
7 … YEARS
Moondust took seven whole actual human years to write. That is half the lifetime of the readers it’s (mainly) aimed at. When I remind my friends of this fact, they look at me like I’m insane. But I think this sums up the mentality of an author. I didn’t care how long it took, just wanted to write an awesome story.
6 … DRAFTS
Moondust was a bit of a monster. By the time the manuscript got to the brilliant team at Chicken House it was already in its fourth draft. Two from me, two I’d worked on with my agent. It would go through another four before it reached the version that’s now on the shelves (OK, OK, so that’s more like eight drafts, but I don’t really count my first two because they were more like total rewrites).
I love editing (good job, right?). To me, editing is turning a wonky, meandering mess of ideas into a big, jumbled up jigsaw puzzle, then picking out all the pieces that actually fit together. It’s the bit that makes your brain hurt, but it’s so worth it.
5 … lbs
I stress eat. There, I said it. I can’t write without snacks. The bigger the project, the bigger the need for snacks. Moondust was a big project. I ate a lot of snacks.
4 … (4,000) POST-IT NOTES
My brain doesn’t work without Post-It notes. Moondust would still be a hastily scribbled note in the back of an old diary if it wasn’t for Post-Its. I can name my favourite colour collection (Miami). I can tell you the supermarket own brands that don’t live up to my adhesive expectations (Sainsbury’s, seriously don’t bother).
I drown in Post-It notes at every stage of the writing process. Plotting, sub plotting, quotes, edit notes, line edits, copy edits, page proofs – you name it, there’s a colour coordinated section on my wall dedicated to it.
3 … MAPS
Accurately navigating a world that lives exclusively in your head is a lot easier when you have a real-life map of it. I made a lot of maps during my edits, but I ended up using three: a land map of the Moon’s surface, a hand-drawn map of the Lunar Inc. base, and a kind of moon tube map thing that connected all the places and spaces together.
2 … MELTDOWNS
Author meltdowns are a thing. I had lots, but two stand out: First Edit Meltdown and Publication Meltdown. Getting published is a big deal, and sometimes it can all get a bit overwhelming, which is totally normal. I find writing lists and eating chocolate help, A LOT.
1 … TROPHY
No, you don’t get a trophy for writing your first book, sorry.
A boy gave me a small, plastic trophy during my first ever school event. That event was the first time I’d ever seen kids engaging with Moondust. It was amazing. Now the tiny trophy sits on my desk with all my Post-It notes, maps, chewed up pens and snack crumbs, as a reminder of why I do this to myself.
Being a YA author rocks.