Endless editing?

Not so long ago there was an interview in a Sunday paper with the crime-writer Ian Rankin. Asked how he knew when he’d got to the end of a novel he was writing, he said, ‘When I get to the deadline.’

Oh, I remember that so well – the publisher’s given you a deadline, it’s in your contract, so you know that’s when you’ve got to stop, mentally write ‘The End’ at the foot of your manuscript and send it on its way.

I also know full well that if there’s no deadline, it’s very easy just to keep on eternally re-writing and re-writing. I suspect no writer is ever truly satisfied with what he/she has written. There is always room for improvement. Only too often I’d send a manuscript to my publisher, while really rather hoping they’d ask for dramatic revisions, so I could have another go at it in the hope of getting it right at last. But they never did – small tweaks, yes, but never anything major.

And that’s the joy of converting your back titles into ebooks – it’s your chance to have another go at re-writing your novel, in the hope that this time you’ll feel a bit happier about it.

That explains why my historical novel ‘Disordered Land’ is taking so long to be converted to an ebook. It was a book that took over my life, off and on, for more than ten years, taking on many different forms before I was finally faced with the publisher’s deadline.

Cover picture by kind permission of Chris Collingwood

Cover picture by kind permission of Chris Collingwood

Once published, it gathered some decent reviews, and I even had a letter from a reader who thought it the best novel about the English Civil War that he’d ever read. But even then I knew it wasn’t quite how I wanted it to be.

Now, re-reading it eighteen years later, I think I’ve a clearer idea of where it falls down. I can see its flaws, and I’m itching to put them right. This time I want to do it properly, so that at the end I’m as satisfied with it as I can ever hope to be.

This entry was posted in Authorial voice, Self-publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

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