Thank you all of you fabulous people. 3 weeks to go on the crowd-funding for the book, and we just hit 99%. It has been amazing how kind and generous people have been.
Where we are at now is that I just need £30 to get the book funded, and out there to all of the wonderful supporters. I’m pretty sure we can make that. And payday is here, or looming.
The next stage, after it is funded is for me to finish the hard rewrite – that’s where you’ve left a book completely alone for 3 months so that you’re not so close to it and you can make the cuts. What Fitzgerald refers to as ‘killing your darlings’ – that sentence or image you’re so proud of but that in the cold light of day doesn’t move the scene forward or slows the pace, you’ve got to cut it. If a whole scene doesn’t quite deliver, you might have to cut it out, or rewrite the whole thing. The early chapters before your characters took on their own life where you were just dragging them round like wardrobes – you need to rewrite those bits now that she starts, she moves, she seems to feel the stir of life along her keel.
You can’t do that until you’ve got some professional distance from the book you’ve written, because whilst on rewrites adding new words and moments is really easy, cutting them is the hard bit. It really is killing your darlings.
I like rewrites generally, but cuts are hard. That’s hopefully the bit that turns an okay book into a good one, and with an authors eye, boy can I spot when a published writer wasn’t able to do it. It is those bits in a book that make you wince with clunkiness and pull you straight out of the scene and ruin the whole willing suspension of disbelief that’s so vital. (If you’re not sure what I mean, pick up a copy of the Da Vinci Code, turn to any page at random and read it. The first sentence that you read that makes you go “oh, that’s awful” is the bit that should have been cut or rewritten.
I’m a naked and unashamed fan of Raymond Chandler, and one of the true joys of his work is that if you get a second copy and a red pen, you can pick any page at random and try to cut a passage or a line or a word to improve the work, and it is extraordinarily difficult or even impossible. Every word there is doing work, it carries its own weight, and it is necessary.
“When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don’t mean utterly, but kill most of them–then the rest will be valuable. They weaken when they are close together. They give strength when they are far apart.”
[Damn right. Similarly be brutal with all the ‘she exclaimed’, ‘he retorted’ ‘she sneered’ ‘Michael roared’ – use only very sparingly, if at all]
After that, I get to work with the Unbound editor, and that’s when we really start the polishing process, and then when that’s done, all the sexy exciting stuff like working on a cover and getting the final version and the proofs and an Amazon listing gets going!
Thank you again so much, and if you haven’t funded yet but keep meaning to get round to it, this is a really good time.
In the words of Jay-Z himself, “Thank you thank you thank you, you’re far too kind”