Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Take note

After the enjoyable interruptions of the Book Fair, I am now back at work, although work of the lightest kind. I intend to start drafting in earnest at the start of June. Until then I am only reading, pacing the garden and making notes in a small hardback notebook which a friend gave me for my birthday.

The notebook is a great boon. It goes with me almost everywhere, and makes a welcome change from the bundles of scrap paper that I habitually use for scribbling down my inchoate thoughts. In our house all scrap paper is sourced from the stacks of redundant manuscripts and page proofs that lie around the periphery of my study, reminding me of how much time has gone by, and constituting a considerable fire hazard. Of course, the notebook notes are later sifted, assessed, roughly organised and written up on screen, so that I can refer to them easily when I need to. This I tend to do last thing at night, with musical accompaniment.

Meanwhile Mareike, our German au pair, having finally read her way through the Stephanie Meyer quartet, is now reading something quite different, of mine. It is at present rather short (lucky for her) – a mere 44,000 words – almost skeletal in its economy, which is in some ways the point. I will almost certainly expand it, but before I do, I’m interested to see how it plays in its anorexic state, especially among younger people. That’s why poor Mareike is getting the first draft. I don’t know many 20-somethings who like to read; my friends are a bit too old, and their kids aren’t nearly old enough. If the skeletal version plays well, then I will just have to write something else to go with it (sometime, Heaven knows when); because I’m told there is considerable resistance in the market for novels under 60,000 words. A case of giving value for money, I suppose, if rather an unsophisticated one.


Katy said...

Pacing. Yes, I do a lot of pacing too. It's one of my informal hobbies, along with afternoon napping. And yes, buying notebooks. Spiral bound ideally so they can be folded right back and small enough to fit in my handbag.

Enjoy your break, it sounds like you've earnt it.


Tim Jones said...

Now a month has gone by, what was Mareike's reaction? The "20s chasm" worries me, too, as a writer hoping to maintain and enhance an audience.

Philip S said...

Thanks for asking. At my suggestion, she read The Age of Innocence, first; and so only got to my effort a few days ago. She seemed to really like it and read it quickly. She was a bit confused by the ending, though, which is what happens when you do things very sparsely, leaving too many things unsaid. Things are not very pinned down, which can be unstaisfying. I'm planning to sit down with her soon and pick her brains more thoroughly. But almost certainly, I will end up expanding the book so that less is left up to the reader to surmise. In my experience, readers are not very good at surmising and only like to do it now and again!