ROW80 Check-In 10: Garth Nix on Parting Company with Your Book

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Hello gentle reader,

And… it’s time for another ROW80 check-in! My goals for this fourth round are as follows: Write or edit every day.

So this week was again quite stressful at work and I didn’t manage to write every day. However, I did write. I wrote 5115 words in 3 days! Yes, that’s a big number for me. *Cue happy dance* I also added a post on my blog about Originality and Writing a book that doesn’t already exist. Feel free to join the conversation here.

Now, here is an inspiring story to keep us going this coming week. Today I’m sharing Garth Nix’s Nine Stages of a Novel. In this post published on his website, the Australian author explains the creative lifecycle of his books. For those of you who don’t know him, Garth Nix is a Young Adult Fantasy writer, author of the Old Kingdom series, The Seventh Tower series, and The Keys to the Kingdom series.


Here I’m only sharing Stage Nine: Parting Company with Your Book, because this is where I am now with my novel The Last Queen, which I am currently querying.

“Stage Nine: Parting Company

Responding to the structural edit and then later checking the copy-edit (which is where the prose is smoothed and minor inconsistencies are corrected) always feels like a strange afterthought to me. Emotionally I have already moved on to the next book, and the editing is purely a craft process, done with the head not the heart.

I think you need to let a book go when all the work is done, and it’s important to move on. In my years in publishing I often met authors whose whole self was entirely bound up in a single book, usually their first. Their lives would rise or fall depending solely on that book’s fate, and in this business, that’s an incredibly foolhardy and dangerous gamble to make.

I’m all for investing all your passion and self into the writing of a book, indeed, you need to put a lot of your soul into the story. But when the writing and editing is all done, I think you need to withdraw somewhat. It’s likely there will be many months before the book hits the shelves. It may even be a year away, and thinking about it and wondering how it will do and obsessing over it for that entire time is not healthy.

You need to say ‘goodbye and good luck, my friend’ and start on the next book. (…)

I’m always really pleased to see one of my finished books. I get a great feeling of accomplishment when I hold that first copy in my hand, a feeling that is undiminished from the very first time, way back in 1990.

But I also feel detached, and I think that is a good thing. I probably already have a new book partly written, or at least the outline is there and the prologue. I look at this finished book and I flick through the pages, and even though I can remember every part of writing it, sometimes I read a bit and I feel like I’m reading someone else’s story. A real book, not one of my own. I like that feeling, because it means I’ve succeeded in my ultimate ambition: writing the sort of book that I like to read.”

How are you other ROWers doing? Here is the Linky to support each other!

Garth Nix

6 thoughts on “ROW80 Check-In 10: Garth Nix on Parting Company with Your Book

  1. Wow! That’s a great word count! And in only 3 days! *happy dance*

  2. alberta says:

    Hard buttrue – easier to move away if the next book is fighting to be released:) all the best

  3. S. J. Maylee says:

    Well done, that kind of word count in 3-days is something to celebrate. *happy dance* The advice hits home this week too, I just it send and I’m working on letting it go and shifting back to another WIP that badly needs my attention. Thanks, EM. Hope you have a great week.

  4. EM Castellan says:

    Glad to hear you liked the post! Have a good week too 🙂

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