So here I am, two weeks down the line, hoping that my book on the stigma of illegitimacy has now had long enough to percolate to produce a brew of just the right strength, depth, bitterness and mellowness to satisfy my readers, my contributors and myself. I need to go through it, right from the beginning, and pretend I don’t know what’s coming. There’s a curious kind of objectivity involved in a writer being her own editor. You have to shift your stance, become a critical friend to yourself. Too critical and you’ll shatter that fragile confidence you guard so nervously, but not critical enough, and your work will slither about lazily in the reader’s mind with no sense of direction or purpose. The book needs to be muscular, but to support the reader with a guiding hand at the small of the back rather than a yank of the arms. It’s really hard to get it right.
All this said, redrafting is a process I really enjoy. By the time I’ve written the final chapters I’ve forgotten all the amazing material I had to work with in the opening ones. And the challenge of fashioning the book into a coherent entity, rather than a succession of episodes, is always fascinating. That’s where the creative bit comes in, I suppose. Non-fiction writers should be creative. Not in the factual sense (obviously!) but in the way they present those facts, and weave them into the contextual fabric of the subject. It’s really exciting discovering the patterns that emerge.
I’ve done it! I started this blog rather dreading the task ahead, but now I feel excited, and my creative juices are beginning to seep through my silly-season brain again.
To work. Wish me luck.