I don’t know how many transformations Wavesongs has gone through by now. It started out as a silly little project I didn’t care much about, which was why I decided to use it as a sort of writing exercise – to see if I had it in me to finish a novel, if I was disciplined enough. As it turned out, discipline was not an issue.
But the finished story didn’t leave me alone – it was awful, every single aspect of it was, and I wanted to do better. I went at it again, from scratch, and wrote it a second time, this time as part of a planned trilogy. It did improve, quite a lot, and was almost published. But I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the story this time, either – it wasn’t right, and all the little changes I made here and there didn’t change that.
Then, I realised I had to start over completely. I hadn’t written what I really wanted to write – I had tried to evade the fact that the couple I wanted to end up together didn’t end up together, because of all sorts of complicated reasons, and how could I ever write a novel where I didn’t fully agree with what was actually happening? A reader will be able to tell if you don’t feel it. If you secretly wish your main character had taken a different path.
So I made radical changes to the story, and knew immediately that the third from-scratch draft would be much, much better than the one before (as it should be). But something was missing, and it wasn’t until I read The Miniaturist that I realised what it was. I’ve thought for so many years that I need to write quickly. Because there are so many ideas in my head, and what does it matter if the writing sucks because no one’s going to read it anyway and I should just aim to finally finish this novel and put it behind me, so I could start with the next one. But that’s not the way to go. I need to do my best with this, I need to take my time. Make this novel as good as I can possibly make it. Because it’s not really about what others think, in the end it’s all down to how I feel about it, what I want to convey. And the thing is this: I wish that I could write a novel that is beautiful, and also true. A novel that could make readers feel the same way about my main couple as I do. It’s a huge and daunting challenge, one I know that I’m probably not skilled enough to take on. But I have years and years to figure it out. I do.
Also: I may have decided to change the first name of my main character. Still surprised by this decision myself, actually, but it will be better this way.