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.