A few days ago, my eleven year old daughter turned to me at the breakfast table and said, ‘You’re here, Daddy, but it’s like you’re not.’
Wow. That’s a serious shot of guilt, isn’t it? It’s not a scattergun blast of shame, but a direct, pint-point rail-gun shot of guilt straight at the heart.
My seven year old son followed it up with the double-tap that only a child can do properly. You know the one. The slightly raised eyebrows, the narrowing of the eyes, the tilt of the head and the sarcastic, ‘Yeah.’
So, now I not only have a mountain to climb in terms of editing this book, but I also have the added feel-bad factor of my children glaring at me when they ask me a question and I stare vacantly and say . . .
You see; I am on an editing mission. I am deep in the foreboding jungle of next year’s book and I just can’t escape the trees.
I am lost in Danworld™.
The story is written – it’s there on the screen – but it just isn’t quite what I want it to be. It doesn’t have that . . . that thing I want it to have. That feel. So I need to fix it and I am obsessing. My wife tells me this is something I do with every book, but it always feels as if it’s the first time and I just can’t get this story out of my head. It’s there from the moment I wake to the moment I fall asleep, and even then it’s in my dreams.
All. The. Time.
I can’t concentrate on anything else.
I want to be able to gather it all up in my mind and spit it back out, fixed and gleaming and perfect. But I can’t do that. Instead, I can only remind myself of Samuel Johnson’s words and keep chipping away, one chapter at a time, one page, one sentence, one word. And when I am finished, it still won’t be what I want it to be. It won’t quite capture the mood I want to convey, or the complexity of the characters as I see them in my head, or the tension and turmoil of the plot, but it will be closer. Much closer. I will make it out of here. I really will. And when I emerge, I will be clutching a book that is ready to be seen. But, for now, I am in lost Danworld™.
I may be some time.
Oh, and Samuel Johnson’s words?
‘What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure.’