Friday, 13 January 2012

Copy editing and dogs - and lambs.

It is nice to be able to report that phase one of the copy editing of The Sea Garden is finished. That means that I have read the book and all of Yvonne’s notes and flagged any that I feel uncertain about. Now I shall work through those and either take a decision or not. Then there will be a session with Marcia to deal with whatever flags remain before sending copies of those pages which carry our comments back to Transworld.

How many times do I read the books before they are published? While Marcia is writing, I read what she has written whenever she comes to the end of a section. If she becomes nervous about pace or balance, I will read the whole book from the beginning: this may happen three times. Then, of course, I read it all before it goes off to Marcia’s agent en route to the publishers. When Marcia has carried out any work her editor suggests, I read it again – and again when the copy editing arrives and, finally, when the proofs arrive. I can honestly say that I am never bored – Marcia is one of the few novelists who write with so many layers that each time you read something new springs from the pages.

There are few certainties in life but one is that you are all in for a treat when The Sea Garden is published.

* * *

Both Marcia and I have lived with dogs for most of our lives. The other day I was looking for a photograph of Marcia (for Woman who are publishing an article about her at the end of the month or during February) and I came across one of her with Trubshawe. She was actually reading him a story the content of which I am sure was passing over his head – which is massive: certainly as big as Marcia’s.
It is a pity that we no longer have Newfoundlands but the problem is that they are extremely strong before they are really well trained which poses a bit of a problem when you get old and creaky. So, after the dreadful day when Trubshawe died – it happened very quickly and unexpectedly – we decided that there would be no more. Trubshawe is remembered as he was the model for Admiral Jellicoe and yes, he did barge into our larder and fall asleep on the cool flagstones against the door.

Many of you will know that the upshot was that we rescued a Labrador called Max who was a perfect gentleman. Max needed a home because his people had both died and their children lived in flats where keeping a dog was impossible. Max was a city dog, born and bred in Plymouth where he had spent all his life. Coming to us proved a problem for him in the beginning. We would take him out into the field and he would quietly walk beside us. Eventually he cottoned on to the fact that he was free to run and started really to enjoy himself. This was fine on a circular walk but if it was one where you walked out and back he would always walk to heel all the way back and we were never able to cure him of that. Poor old Max was very overweight when he arrived and, although he slimmed down quite a bit with us, he was suffering from diabetes and this eventually caused his death.

Next to come onto the scene was Jossie who is now seventeen. I won’t go into details but if you don’t know the story click here for the blog which explains what happened. Jossie is a control freak. She is stubborn, difficult, almost blind and totally deaf when it suits her. We are incredibly fond of her but she drives us both mad. Not surprisingly you will find her doppelgänger in The Sea Garden.

I often mention how varied is the morning view from our bedroom window. These two pictures underline that: one taken yesterday when there was a splendid dawn and the other this morning showing everything shrouded in mist.

Our local farmer, Sam, has his ewes lamb down indoors and puts them out into the field next to our house the following day, Well, the first lambs of 2012 arrived yesterday - spring is definitely on the way!