When Paul and I were in college, sometimes he would talk about how he saw his future as a writer, or how he saw Book Three of his trilogy ending when he had only started Book One that week.
I used to say to him 'Paul, how do you make duck soup? First, kill the duck. Write the book!'
I would then talk about my own future as a writer, or how I saw the sequel to my second book ending when I hadn't even written the first book yet.
Paul would smile and nod, because he is a nicer person than me. He never mentioned duck soup.
But he finally got his revenge last night. I told him that I was putting off my third edit of Becky. I hope this will be my final full edit and that the next steps will be sending it off to gamma readers (the betas have already had their input), a brief polish based on their comments, followed by querying.
'I'm terrified,' I said. 'This is the last step before I have to think about putting the book out there. It's so scary that I don't want to start the last edit.'
Paul typed back 'Duck soup.'
He's right. I should just edit the book and see how I get on. Maybe the edit will throw up more problems. Maybe I'm still four edits away from querying. I won't know until I start.
But it's bloody scary. Every step of the journey takes me a step closer to querying.
Of course I'm scared of rejection. But that's not the whole story.
I'm also scared of succeeding.
Yep, I'm scared of the very thing I've wanted all my life. I'm scared of an agent liking my book, signing me, and selling it. I'm scared of being published.
Because when I get published, I want it to be right. I want it to be the right book, the right time, the right agent, the right publisher, the right marketing, the right sales - all leading, ultimately, to the right career. And I have virtually no control over that. I can't write the book that would be best to launch my career - I don't know what that is. All I can do is write the best book I can and hope.
And I can let go.
This book may never see the light of day. I'm prepared for that, and I'm OK with it. And I've read a lot about how other writers have handled publication, so I think I'm - well, not prepared for that, because no one ever is. But I'm prepared for how unprepared I am. And I have some idea what's required.
It's still scary. But my job right now is to put that aside and write the best book I can.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a duck to kill.