The past week has been a very good week for my writing related activities: I got my first sight of the page proofs for Gloucester Then & Now at the end of last week, then on Tuesday I gave a talk on Gloucester’s Pubs for the Friends of Gloucester Waterways Museum.
Receiving page proofs is very exciting. I submitted my initial draft just before Christmas, but at that stage it was just a Word document full of text and a bunch of separate digital images. Since then my publisher, The History Press, has been busy turning it into something that looks like a book. And a very good job they have done of it too.
Seeing the page layouts with the old and new photographs side by side with my beautifully crafted text is almost as rewarding as seeing the finished product. However, I had to put my excitement aside and last weekend I went through the proofs with a fine toothed comb, correcting any errors – mine or theirs, doing some final tweaks on the wording, and adding in the odd update. By and large though there was little that needed doing.
I have now returned it and my editor, Michelle, will also be going through it to do a much more professional edit. Apparently it is then winging its way off to India for printing. Expect to see it in the shops around late May – news of any launch events to follow.
My work with page proofs had to be interspersed with preparations for my talk. I had been asked to provide the talk months ago, but as is the way with these things it was suddenly upon me without me having done anything very much to prepare.
I am not a natural speaker, but I have done a few similar events in the past so had the basis of a talk which just needed a little polishing up and refreshing, plus I inserted some extra material on the Docks pubs to add some extra relevance for my audience.
My previous talks have mainly been for local societies or Women’s Guild groups or the like. They are always nice informal events and usually quite small- maybe a couple of dozen people, some of whom sleep through most of it any way. I was told that the Friends of Gloucester Waterways Museum had been doing well recently, tending to get around 40-45 attendees, so I steeled myself for a slightly larger crowd.
I turned up early on the night so that I could set up my laptop, make sure it talked properly to their projector, etc, and already there were quite a few people in. By the time I was set up, all the seats were full and they were fetching out more chairs for the growing crowd. They were still coming in as I began my talk, with standing room only at the rear – I would estimate that there were more than 100 people in attendance!
This was by far my biggest audience and, I was informed, the biggest ever audience for one of the Friends of Gloucester Waterways Museum’s events. It just goes to show how much interest there is out there for Gloucester’s Pubs!
I am pleased to report that the talk seemed to go very well: the audience were extremely engaged – almost everyone stayed awake, they laughed in the right places and I even sold a few books at the end.
If you are interested in attending future talks or the launch event for Gloucester Then and Now, I will put information on my website at www.darrelkirby.com as it becomes available.