I was feeling a little sorry for myself yesterday; for a month I’ve been wrestling with revisions. Timeframe, character, plot, pace and dialogue, all has to be changed. When I was a kid, I remember pulling a thread from the middle of my jumper and watching the rest of the jumper unravel. Novel writing is the same. Corrections in the first chapters, have repercussions throughout. And my story – as usual a hefty saga – had already undergone many of my own rewrites. And now, it hadn’t even reached my editor’s desk. The initial revisions are from my agent, with whom I have forged a long and trusted professional relationship. So why do I feel as though I’m entombed in a distressed submarine on the seabed, minus the crew? Perhaps because I have only myself to work out the problems and make the ship buoyant again. Otherwise I’m doomed. The worst is yet to come when these (hopefully) adequate repairs reach my editor. Meanwhile, I am left with vice-like self-doubt, shredded confidence and a terror of writing. I plunge into research for the next contracted book, the air so refined in my submarine, that I’m convinced that this unwritten novel will also be an insurmountable task. I see but don’t see, read but don’t read, make plans and plots that kaleidoscope into failure. And then, THEN, something heavenly happens. A sonar voice breaks through; there’s an interview with Philip Pullman on the telly. I emerge from my sealed chamber and low and behold, what happens next shifts my consciousness totally. The master writer tells us that it’s nothing at all for his first chapter to be changed 14 times – before it even leaves his desk. Editing, sculpting, honing again and again, was how he created such a believable Lyra in his stunning “Golden Compass” novels. Edit, edit, edit. I love this man. I love the rest of the interview. He inspires me, fuels me, uplifts me. What am I whinging about? I’m in the privileged position of having professional critique so how lucky is that? If I have to jump through the hoop dozens more times, I know that eventually, I’ll lift off from the seabed and rise slowly to the surface. When that hatch opens (and the story is accepted) I shall gasp in the oxygen, sun, light and warmth. All the painstaking edits will be worth it. Writing is editing. Editing and more editing. It’s only that. Why do I keep forgetting? Philip, thank you for reminding me.