Still at it

Off the revised text has gone again.

I have inserted the suggested new scenes to illuminate aspects of the main characters and to plump up their story. (More warmth! More passion! Heightened tension! I hope.) I have also cunningly woven in sentences and paragraphs in other places where I was sure I’d put in all the detail but actually hadn’t. It’s a fine line between not saying enough and going on at tedious length, though. I hope I’m on the right side now. That’s where editors come in, isn’t it? I’m lucky to have mine.

I have really enjoyed the process. It’s less creative than the writing, obviously, but there’s a miniaturist and precise satisfaction in it, rather like darning. That shows how old I am. However, a novel that was supposed to be shortened is now several pages longer. Cutting is so hard. I also know from experience that all the bits you are particularly fond of are the ones that should probably go first, so I’m prepared for more chopping at copy edit stage. I had a lovely time researching my Victorian stage magic and l’m thinking of that as its own reward, rather than needing to see it regurgitated on the page. Doing the research is one of the great thrills of the job, whether it’s nosing in the library or travelling to some offbeat place, but I always frugally want to use it all. I’m still learning that you don’t have to bring in everything in one place; it might come in useful in the next book, or the one after.

My editors are now looking at the revisions (I’ve just been asked somewhat ominously if I am able to do the detailed work in Track Changes.  Could a person who remembers darning deal with Track Changes? I think not). I am spending the interval gazing out of the window and turning the next book over in my mind. It’s a sequel. I’ve never attempted one before, so it’s interesting to plan. I’m also doing some broad background reading in early 20th century social history. For my own pleasure, I’m re-reading W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. It’s a circular meditation based on a walk through the Suffolk countryside where I am now, so it has extra resonance.

The sun is shining on the North Sea.

Not a crowded beach

Not a crowded beach

6 thoughts on “Still at it

  1. A sequel, Rosie? Good for you! That will be a totally new departure for you as you say. I do agree with you over the pleasures of research. A couple of years ago, I joined in a project to make a bonnet for every girl and woman who was transported to Australia from England during the 1800’s, which led me to delve further into the whole subject. I became quite fascinated and appalled with every piece of information that I unearthed. It also completely changed my views on crime and punishment.

    The fact that you are going to ‘follow on’ as it were,with the characterisations in the present book, will make it a ‘must read’ for all your legion of fans! 🙂 may I ask though – what are ‘Track Changes’?

    • Hi Rosemary. Very interested to hear about your involvement in the bonnet project. How many women were involved? There must have been many. How many bonnets did you contribute? I don’t know a lot about the deportations, but I do know that many of the crimes were so pathetically minor.
      Track Changes, by the way, is a word programme that allows a number of people to amend the same text by assigning different colours and dating each successive amendment, until the whole thing is an impasto of ‘improvements’ and the begetter of the original has lost the will to live.

  2. Oh Rosie! That sounds like a horrible process to live through! 😦 Please don’t lose the will to live though – we (your devoted fans) couldn’t do without you! 🙂

    The bonnet project was the brainchild of a photographer from Tasmania, Christina Henri, and the actual prison site, which is still standing, has become a World Heritage site. Christina has taken the exhibition all over the world, so women worldwide have contributed by researching to see if they have a possible ancestor who was transported and have made a bonnet in their memory. Altogether, 25,566 women and girls were sent to Australia. I couldn’t find a direct ancestor so Christina found me a convict with the same initials, so I made and embroidered a bonnet for her and also for her child that died. The idea is to make a bonnet for every single girl and woman. The last time I looked, she had received over 20,000, so you can see how the project captured the imagination of crafts people worldwide!

    I’m so sorry, Rosie! I’ve gone on a bit and I didn’t intend to hijack your blog! 🙂 I hope I’ve given you a couple of minutes of light relief! 🙂 Keep up the good work.

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