10 Years Later…

Horizon Skies is 10 years old!

It has indeed, been a decade since I put pen to paper, and started on the story that eventually became Horizon Skies. 10 years during which I not only went through a lot of life changes, but my novel also metamorphosed from a messy, directionless fantasy into a manuscript that hopefully, resembles something a bit more polished.

In those years, other than writing, I moved house three times, changed jobs five times including relocating out of London, worked full time, and battled with depression and anxiety.

  • 2012 – Drafting on Red Sky Dawn begins.
  • 2017 – First draft finished!
    • A year spent on edits and revisions.
    • Title change to Horizon Skies.
  • 2018 – First round of querying literary agents.
    • My first experience of rejection.
  • 2018 – Worked with Lucy Rose York (editor) on improving manuscript.
  • 2019 – Procrastination, editing, revising, and more work with Lucy.
  • 2020 – Sporadic work on Horizon Skies.
  • 2021 – A very tough year, copy edit on opening chapters done.
  • 2022 – Fresh beta read, deep dive editing and revising.
  • 2022 – Back out to literary agents!

I’ve been at the point of no return with Horizon Skies several times, hence why it’s taken five years to get from the first draft to what is now the 6th or 7th. The overall story has remained the same, but there have been chapters and paragraphs cut, new chapters added, and the word count has fluctuated from its original 93k to 108k to 103k. All that’s left to do is create my query formats so they’re tailored to agent requirements.

What I have learnt from this process is invaluable though, and has certainly encouraged me to approach the next project with a different plan of action. I have lots of other ideas, more stories I want to tell, but in realising my ambition, I’ve had to learn not just how to write a novel, but what it means to be a writer.

As much as I want to work on other stuff, I have to prioritise Horizon Skies 2 (title undecided). I did work out a rough plan a few years ago, but as I’ve improved, new story arcs and back stories emerged. When I first started the process, I didn’t know what HS was about (the true mark of a pantser!).

So, my new plan is:

  • Review story plan for HS part 2.
  • Plan the story arc.
  • Character backstories.
    • Dynamics.
    • Relationships.
    • Tragedy.
    • Legends.
  • World building.
    • Book 2 has a whole new world to explore!
  • Structure.

I’m at the end of my first year with the Open University and my final assignment has been submitted. The second year starts in October, and I intend to use the four months between to work on book two, as book one will be sitting with agents, and querying can take months. With everything I’ve learnt, I have made a promise to myself to not take another 10 years!

The biggest lesson I’ve learnt is that writing a book is actually easy, it’s the stuff afterwards that’s hard. My editing was crap to begin with, I barely cut 500 words. Fast forward a few years, and I’ve cut whole chapters, revised parts of the story, identified words and phrases I’m far too fond of, and improved my grammar.

I fell out of love with Horizon Skies for a while, it can be a soul destroying process, performing necessary surgery on something I’ve nurtured from the first word on a blank page. I’ve found my enthusiasm for it again though, and feel genuinely excited to have something to my name.

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