David Setchfield

"Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad but it's the only way you can do anything really good."

This quote by the celebrated American writer, William Faulkner - a Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner - seemed an apt metaphor for me as I stared at a blank laptop screen and the chasm of uncertainty that accompanied it. Sure, I'd read a couple of best-selling "How To Write A Thriller" books, hoping to arm myself with sufficient tools for the task ahead and to distil some of the more nuanced guidelines of the genre. But, at some stage, the keyboard has to be activated and the first words produced. At this point, despite all the research and prep, the magnitude of the project can seem overwhelming. But, as Mr Faulkner observed: "Get it down." And keep putting it down! Some days the words flowed fast and furious; on others it was a struggle to reach the daily word count but, mercifully, incidents of writer's block were infrequent. Perseverance, tenacity, doggedness - call it what you like - is the name of the game when seeking to become an author. Especially during those times - more numerous than one would wish - when doubts about the entire enterprise start to snowball. But all thoughts of quitting have to be swiftly banished before they gain sufficient traction to derail the creative process. Some authors write a succession of drafts of their book before they're satisfied - if any author can ever be wholly satisfied - with their fictional or non-fictional outpourings. My preferred method was done chapter by chapter. Each one needed editing before moving on but I found that modus operandi worked for me. On completion of the final chapter I switched off the laptop and resolved not to read my thriller for at least a month or two. This put much-needed distance between me and my novel and meant I could apply a degree of objectivity when reunited with my manuscript. Of course, this begs the question whether an author can ever be truly objective about their work but that, perhaps, is a debate for another time. Anyway, trusting myself to exercise adequate detachment, and applying whatever critical faculties I could muster, I progressed from first page to last. Some edits, mostly minor, were made but no radical changes were needed. At that point, surveying the end result of months, if not years, of dedicated effort and mental application, an author can be forgiven for thinking: job done. Far from it. It's merely another staging post on the long march to publication. And how is that achieved? Well, dear reader, that's another story!