I have a confession to make, one that not even my closest friends have heard. Oh, the shame! But I’m among amiable strangers here, which makes it easier somehow. Remember my most recent completed manuscript, the English Civil War story set on Dartmoor in southern England? Well, my editor hates it.
Okay, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration – his three-page editorial report suggests that he harbours some hope of salvaging a halfway decent story from the wreckage – but it’s the first time I’ve been faced with the prospect of a lot of rewriting for one of my scripts. Please, no aphorisms about pride coming before a fall or if at first you don’t succeed… The irony is, I’ve confronted my authors with this degree of revision many times over (the Purple Pen of Doom is merciless when someone fails to breathe sufficient magic into one of my storylines), and can shift effortlessly into cheerleader mode when it comes to boosting their morale and giving them a new burst of energy for knocking a script into shape.
But all I can think right now is, this is so unfair! To me, the story worked, the characters did pretty much what I wanted them to and, most important of all, I met my deadline. Why should I make a relatively minor character four years older just to avoid shocking readers with the reality that children as young as five were taken onto battlefields? Why do I have to spend more time explaining the causes and effects of the English Civil War? Why can’t there be two dramatic pony rescues from the military camp? I read the opening chapters out loud to one of my long-suffering companions and he thought it was brilliant. So there. Crash and thud. That’s the sound of me throwing all my toys out of the pram (in case that means nothing to you, I should explain that it’s a British expression for having a tantrum – think squawking two-year-old with arms flailing and pacifiers flying and you’ll get the general idea).