Another novel finished and submitted!
With reference to my two most recent blogs (Everything goes in threes and In praise of small independent publishing houses), I’ve spent an intensive fortnight unearthing the 78,000 word draft of a novel, which several years ago I deemed unsatisfactory and shelved, and performing restorative surgery on it. This involved a 16% reduction of the word count, to 63,000, and a good deal of reorganisation. I then wrote the requisite synopsis and covering letter and submitted the whole package to my favourite indie publisher, Fantastic Books Publishing. I asked them first whether they’d be willing to consider the submission and they were kind enough to say they’d welcome another manuscript from me. That was the uplift to the spirits, or ego-boost, I needed!
The novel addresses the question “What would happen to society if law-breaking became inconceivable and therefore impossible?” and the corollary question “How could such an apparent blessing be made to happen?” The answer to the corollary question involves an intervention by the University of Pandaemonium, otherwise known as Hell, and the answer to the main question is “catastrophe”, which is only averted by the prayers of the Archbishop of Canterbury. It’s obviously a comic novel, but the theme/question is serious in an abstract, academic kind of way.
Periods of intensive work aren’t unfamiliar to me, but I suspect I was driven to this one because however insouciant I remain on the surface, deep down I was unsettled by the cancer diagnosis and needed to distract myself in a creative way. I was also mildly disconcerted by the premature arrival of autumn. As our long hot dry summer draws towards its more characteristically British close (grey skies, intermittent rain, cool temperatures), signs of autumn have started to arrive… about a month early. Blackberries, rowanberries and haws are as ripe now as they usually are in mid-September, and the trees have adopted the tired appearance they attain when their leaves are about to lose their greenness and start to fall. Indeed, some horse chestnuts, for example, are already wearing brown. The migratory birds are still with us because they respond to day length rather than contingent meteorological signals, but plant life is another matter.
Premature autumn or not, I’m about to go on holiday. I’ve hired a cottage in the Yorkshire Dales and I plan to do some walking and sightseeing. I’ll be near to Fountains Abbey and fairly close to Riveaulx Abbey and Richmond Castle, among other antiquities, so I shall enjoy myself even if the weather is less than perfect. When I return it will be to a new creative writing course, which I start teaching on 10th September, more work on the folktale film project, and the usual round of storytelling gigs and open mic sessions… interspersed with hospital visits and in due course, no doubt, an admission for surgery.
Sufficient until the day…