Saturday, 15 June 2013
Printing the manuscript
I've just done it. After weeks of hard graft - and last week I hardly went anywhere except up the stairs to my study - I hit the print button about an hour ago and watched as all those words I crafted (agonised over in some cases) emerged on paper. Not a proper manuscript version for publishers, but a draft print for a trusted work-in-progress reader.
It's always a satisfying feeling - tinged with relief that the printer, at least, has actually worked. I can remember all too vividly the days when printing out the manuscript of a novel could take all day, churning and juddering and running out of ink, leaving you jumping around alongside with exhausted irritation.
When it came to the second novel, my husband heroically offered to print out the manuscript from a floppy disk at the office after work...the mega-printer there whooshed out the pages all right, but the after the first few pages, the files corrupted and all we had were pages of jibberish. More anguished phone calls. Another try. Tears of frustration at midnight...and back to home printing at the speed of a Roman scribe the next morning.
How far we have come...but the next stage remains the same. I'm going to drive over to my parents' house this afternoon and let my mother read it. Not only is she a lifelong reader, but she's a demanding one who pulls no punches. I made the mistake (well, I say mistake, but it was a lucky one) of showing her the first part of this book back in January before I had done enough work on it. I'd been telling her about how it was going, and she'd been more than usually interested in having an early peek.
So I gave her what I'd done. More than a week went by. Eventually, I cracked and asked her what she thought. "It's most peculiar," she said. "Far too much gardening, and you really need to explain things better." I had to go away and do some serious thinking. But an incisive reader at this stage is just what you need. Fingers crossed she likes it this time.