Wednesday, June 24, 2009



Jim Murdoch said...

I must be a really strange bird because I love editing. You see, once you start editing all the having to think up new stuff and get it to fit together is done. Editing is polishing this gem, making every sentence flow. I have probably spent more time editing than I've ever spent writing.

I love the wee animation though.

Steve Augarde said...

Yes, everything is in the editing, Jim and I too spend far more time re-writing than writing. My problem is that I keep thinking the damn thing's done, and then it isn't!

Dave Townsend said...

No internet? No landline? What is this non-life? Since I have never in my entire life (to my recollection), been without either, we, who are left behind in virtuality can only speculate on these conundra (sick).
Does one become gradually/immediately unconscious? – since presumably life, in any meaningful sense, ceases to exist. Is it something like dying I wonder, and if so, should any subsequent reboot or reconnection be viewed in terms of reincarnation. Again, if so, as whom or as what will Steve return?
These are perhaps not questions which should over duly tax us, for did not Steve tell us in the parable of Barnaby Shrew, that ‘everyfin’ normally turns out more or less awright, even wiv a tawk tawk modem’
And yet…. and yet… I seem to rem………

Dave Townsend said...

wrong posting above. Still, you get the idea..

sal said...

I completely agree, Steve! (with the animation). edit = pain.
But I must let you know that all that pain was worth it. I just finished reading Celandine, and am still wiping the tears away. What a wonderful, wonderful book. Thank you for telling these stories, Steve. There are many books written but not so many of them are nourishing and rich. Yours are.

Steve Augarde said...

Barnaby Shrew? Blimey, you're going back a bit now, Dave. BS was reviewed at the time by a young Polly Toynbee, now political doyenne of the Guardian newspaper. I remember her saying that I was an author who 'deserved to succeed'. However, my publisher at the time (Andre Deutsch) told me that there was some resistance to the book in schools because of the photo of me on the jacket flap. Apparently teachers didn't want their young charges to think that anyone who looked like THAT (ie long hair, beard) could meet with any success at all!

Steve Augarde said...

Thanks, Sally. Sitting here on this rainy day, staring glumly at the few inadequate sentences I've so far managed to produce, it's posts like yours that encourage me to sit it out a while longer. Bless you.

sal said...

I think I need that blessing, Steve - thank you!
You say you spend far more time re-writing than writing. I'm finding that quite heartening news. I'm editing/ rewriting my first novel at present and am feeling full of doubt because it doesn't seem to be a nice, clear, smooth process of simply fixing a list of problems one by one.
What seems to be happening for me is that layers of flesh are being added to what was really quite a skeletal first draft. I'm learning so much more about my characters and world, to the point where it's overwhelming at times and sometimes I feel quite lost in it all.
Is this normal, do you think??? I'd love to hear a little more about your re-writing 'process'.

Steve said...

Whole books have written been on the process of writing, Sal, as I'm sure you know. There is no 'right method' as such, and certainly not one that can be explained in a few sentences.

My own approach is continually changing. With The Various I just began writing and kept going until I realised that I'd better start figuring out what this story was about! Nowadays I plan the overall structure of a book so that I at least know the beginning the middle and the ending.

Editing for me means paring down, trimming away the excess, clarifying. Celandine was too wordy, I think, and with the wisdom of hindsight it could have been a much tighter book. But it's necessary to build your characters and setting before you can decide what to leave out. I did quite a lot of research on the the First World War, for instance, before writing Celandine, and yet there's very little historical detail in the finished draft. I just needed to know that whatever I did say was accurate.

It sounds to me as though you need the opinion of a professional editor in order to give you the confidence to continue. I always advise writers to try and do this sooner rather than later. Polish up the first three chapters until they're absolutely your best work, and then try to get them in front of an editor. Very difficult to do, I know, but no more difficult than when the novel's completed. And if an idea is fatally flawed from the beginning then it's better to hear it before investing so much time that you can't let go. You need someone to tell you whether you're on the right lines or not. Friends and family simply won't do. An editor will know within the first few paragraphs. Don't feel that the book has to be finished before you can get professional feedback.

I used run writing courses in the past, and although I no longer do this, or read manuscripts, I do still have some material that you might find useful. It's no trouble to me to email it to you, so feel free to get in touch if you want: