Friday, 19 December 2008

The Sound of Deadlines Groaning By : Penny Dolan

For the last few months – and apologies to anyone who I’ve had dealings with in this state - I’ve been increasingly irritable, trying to get what I half-jokingly call “the tome” revised. It was a special kind of revision, just changing from present to past tense. Ha ha! It is easy in a sentence. It was easy in a sentence. However, with the tome being around 90,000 words, it was wearying – and of course threw up other small plot problems on the way, which were satisfying to solve.

At the start, there was the “will this work?” feeling, as I really wanted the story to offer immediacy and involvement. Having begun to accept that the suggested change might work, then came the middle section, or the long, long, long trudge. Scene after scene appeared, each needing the same intense listening – yes, that’s exactly the word! – the focused listening to the “new” words, then adjusting the rhythm of the phrases or sentences. Micro rather than macro writing.

Finally, hope started to rise. I would get the damn thing done before the Christmas holiday (a deadline I’d imposed, but which had more than a hint of “suppose the editor asks for it by then?). I became cheerful again, started contacting friends about future coffees and outings, and started sleeping at night, as the last 30 . . . 20 . . 10 and then the final pages arrived. Then it was done! Calloo callay and all that!

Except for a small problem, she sighed. While groaning over the text, I’d stared hard at the words too many times, and – while crying out loud, clenching my fists, pacing around the room, lowering my head, being unable to breathe, and such similar activities – had suddenly – yes, suddenly! – seen that I needed to go through the whole thing all over again.

Though this time it’s easier. At least I can set “edit” for groaning, can’t I?

Season's greetings to you all!


Nick Green said...

Perhaps you should have left all the groaning, sighing, staring and suddenlys in. As far as I can see, therein lies the passport to mega-sales and riches!

Penny Dolan said...

Now there's an idea, Nick! Actually, given my writing style, I'm sure there'll be enough left of such wordage for everyone - though whether they'll be offering bucks or brickbats is another matter.