As I’ve said before, Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper is due for publication 1st March. I’ve always been aware that there was a slight weakness in one particular aspect, but I couldn’t fix it because I couldn’t quite place it and so many people I trust—people in publishing, not friends and relatives (none of whom have seen a word)—have told me how good the book is that I was okay with letting it go. Then, late last week, I got an email from my editor: I’ve had a bit of a brainwave but I don’t know how you’ll feel about it. Poppy comes looking for Billy and it feels too calculated – her seeking him now he’s famous. I wonder whether he could be the one to seek her? I also think this works in terms of a protagonist leading the action, changing their own destiny. What you’d probably need to do is seed in details in the MS which show that Billy still thinks of her (and this would make sense as he’s quite sentimental and kind.)… What are your thoughts? I know it’s tiresome having redrafted so much and so you might be feeling a little deflated, but I do think it’s worth tweaking this so it reads in the best way possible.
Deflated? No. I was leaping around, punching the air. Of Course! That’s it. Okay, I have to delete about 25,000 words of a 95,000 word novel and replace them with 25,000 (or so) different words, and do it in one heck of a hurry, but there was a problem and this takes it away. It’s ages since I’ve felt this energised.
For the past 72 hours my day has looked like this:
03.00 Get up and start on the rewrite of Zappa’s Mam.
05.30 Shower. Shave. Have breakfast.
06.00 Return to rewrite of Zappa’s Mam.
10.15 Walk four miles.
12.00 Take nap
14.00 Edit rewrite of Zappa’s Mam.
16.00 Have cup of tea and piece of fruit cake. Read (something written by someone else).
18.00 Dinner, followed by coffee.
I haven’t answered the phone or the doorbell before two in the afternoon, no matter what. I know some famous writers have been fuelled almost entirely by alcohol, but that doesn’t work for me—I only drink alcohol on weekends at the best of times and when I’m writing I don’t touch it at all.
There’s 6½ hours of concentrated writing in that schedule and that’s 2½ hours more than I usually do, but I would struggle to stop—the change she suggested is so right that it’s powering me forward.
What would we do without editors?