Hello. You might not remember me, but I’m Tim Weaver, author of the David Raker series and the guy who’s supposed to keep this blog updated. As you can see from how long it’s taken me to write another blog post this year, I’ve been a bit neglectful as far as this place is concerned, as well as the website in general. I do have a good excuse, though, and it’s called David Raker 9. More on that later.
First of all, a note on I Am Missing. It’s been out there for just over three months now, and people are still reading it, and apparently they’re even enjoying it, which – eight books in – I’m always slightly amazed and thoroughly delighted at. Thank you so much for all your messages on email, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – they have been overwhelmingly lovely, with only one reader (currently) telling me how much she hated the book, and indeed everything I represent. So that’s great news!
I do, I confess, worry about what people will make of my books, especially in the weeks and months before they come out. Of course, in reality, that’s a completely pointless thing to do because, even if they’re absolutely terrible, there’s nothing you can do about it once they're out. Any chance to affect change in I Am Missing was gone two months before it even came out, when I signed off on the final version of the manuscript. Nonetheless, it’s human nature to not want a fourteen-month project to be met with derision. Fourteen months is a long time. It’s blood, sweat and tears. It’s days staring out of the window until your brain feels like it’s sludge, trying to come up with the best twist possible. It’s working and reworking and scrapping and editing characters. It’s liking some bits, hating most bits, and doubting all of it. After fourteen months, you’re totally snowblind to your project and, however much your agent and editor try to reassure you, there’s always a small part of you that worries they might all be wrong – or they might be the only people who’ll like it.
I’m not sure if these are irrational thoughts, but – from what I can tell, having had countless conversations with other authors – it’s the thoughts a writer has. I’ve only met a couple of writers in my life who thought their books were absolute Grade A, solid gold winners, or who considered writing books really easy, and whilst I admired their self-confidence and especially admired their ability to turn in a 100,000-word piece of work having not broken a sweat at all, I’m always slightly suspicious of people who find writing simple and who have that level of trust in their work before a single reader has even as much as picked up their novel.
I’ve blogged about this side of things before, but writing is hard. It’s a learning curve, constantly, from start to finish, even multiple books in. It’s not a job that gets easier the more you do it. In fact, I find it much harder now than at the start, because – after eight books – you’ve covered so much ground in terms of plots and characters that it’s actually a very difficult task to keep things feeling fresh. It’s part of the reason why I went down the route I did with I Am Missing: not a missing person, but a person with a missing memory. Fiddling with the formula helps to alleviate some of the inevitable repetition of writing a series.
I’m not sure, ultimately, what my point is here: I suppose it’s just that I love writing, I feel very lucky to do it for a job, and extremely humbled that people would buy, and continue to buy, my books; and that books don’t come together easily, or by chance, and that decisions are rarely made in them without tons of thought being expelled; and, in the end, despite all the doubts you have during that fourteen-month process, from first page to final manuscript you just have to write what you want to write, not react to opinions and reviews. Yes, you have to keep in mind who your audience are, but beyond that, you just try to write the best book you possibly can.
All of which you could lift out of this blog, save off, and apply to David Raker 9 in ten months time. As I write this on a train (the first time I’ve left my house, pretty much, in three months), I’m about two days past my deadline, the book is finished in the sense that I've got to the end, but it needs so much editing. I have, no exaggeration, been working 14-hour days for two months trying to finish it. I’m totally snowblind to it already, terrified that it’s rubbish, and very conscious that it’s currently running thousands of words over the ideal word count – so, in that respect, the panic has started early. But, then, weirdly, I do find a sort of comfort in that.
Because if there's a day when I write something that doesn’t fill me full of fear and self-doubt, that'll be the time to really worry.
P.S. Since the last blog, I've read:
You Don't Know Me by Imran Mahmood
Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Absolute Power by David Baldacci
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow
Daisy in Chains by Sharon Bolton
Alan Partridge: Nomad by Alan Partridge
The Monkey's Raincoat by Robert Crais
Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
Local Girl Missing by Claire Douglas
Mad by Chloé Esposito
Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base by Annie Jacobsen
The Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
The Keep by F. Paul Wilson
The Night Stalker: The Life and Crimes of Richard Ramirez by Philip Carlo
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Author of the David Raker novels