Yesterday, you may have noticed, was the 1st of December. This date is meaningful for 2 reasons: it means that Christmas is just around the corner, a point brought home by my first Christmas card of the year arriving on my doormat, and it also means that my first draft of the Story of Gloucester Pubs was supposed to be with my publisher.
It is this deadline that has kept me so busy over the past six weeks that I have had no time for blogging. In fact, I have had no time for hardly anything: a looming deadline is the only known cure for my procrastination, and even then it only kicks in once it is almost too late.
So, you may ask, did I achieve the deadline? Well, it really depends how you look at it…
On the one hand, I did send in a draft. On the other hand, I did so to get my editor’s advice on how I might trim it a little as it is a smidge long at present. I like to think of this as over delivering; the pedants amongst you may point out that I haven’t actually delivered what I was contracted to deliver and I have, therefore, failed to achieve the objective.
Luckily, my editor is an understanding woman. I had warned her that there were certain things that I wasn’t going to manage to get done: a few outstanding pictures, things like that, and with no pleading or sobbing necessary, she granted me an extension until after Xmas. She then readily agreed to take a look at her draft and offer her opinion.
Her initial verdict was short: “Wowser, that’s big,” she said.
Now there are times when hearing a woman use that phrase would be quite gratifying: I’m thinking this isn’t one of those times.
The problem is this: my contract says the work “shall consist of around 40-50,000 words and a maximum of 200 illustrations.” The work actually consists of around 80,000 words and 250 illustrations.
You see what I mean about over delivery! If you are the regular reader of this blog (there may be one?) my inability to be brief may come as no surprise, but even by my standards this is quite exceptional.
When I tell people that I have written too much they typically say something like: well at least it’s easier to cut it down than have to add more in. These people probably aren’t writers because from my perspective this simply isn’t true. As I mentioned, for me waffling isn’t a problem: add another 10,000 words? No sweat, I’ll have it for you by the morning.
Cutting words out, on the other hand, is not so easy. These aren’t just any words, you see. These are painstakingly researched, lovingly crafted words. Imagine that you have a child that you love, but you are told that he is too big and the only way to make him the right size is to cut off some limbs. This may reduce your baby to the right size, but you would probably feel that all of those limbs were equally perfect and necessary for your baby. Removing the limbs may make your baby the right size, but it won’t make it a better baby.
And yet, something has to be done. As it stands, I am in danger of being sued by people who, in good faith, buy the book and then get a hernia trying to carry it to the pub.
I await my editor’s verdict with baited breath. If you hear a sobbing wail emanating from the region of Brockworth it will just be me carrying out a painful word-ectomy.