Thursday, March 21, 2013

slowly, slowly...

The manuscript of The Boy in the Yellow Dress has been doing the rounds of the publishers (in Australia), to be rebuffed again and again.

'Not commercial enough' is a typical response; 'The writing is good, but it's not the kind of thing we handle' another, this time from a leading literary agent.

But each time it comes back I get the chance to take a long hard look at the writing and, grateful for another chance to tweak the prose, happily throw out the dead wood. I remember early on, when I first managed to get the words down, they were too precious (retrieved, as they were, from the yawning void) to be tinkered with.  Precious prose.  My own 'holy writ', for God's sake!

But it takes time away, doing other things, to come back to it with more detachment each time, and feel for myself where the lumps are, where there are too many words, where the sentences strangle and meanings dangle...

You know, the inner ear can hear what's meant to be there, and what is dross.

There's the story of the sculptor (was it Leonardo? or Michelangelo?) who said he could see the horse in the block of marble and all he had to do was take away what wasn't the horse.

So I continue, chipping away, each rejection less disappointing.