The best and worst of times

There is, of course, much going on in the world at present. All my London-based friends and acquaint­ances have checked in, so it only remains to extend sym­pathy to the rel­at­ives and friends of those who died and, equally, to extend con­tempt to the bombers. We can take heart in their incom­pet­ence; so many bombs and so few deaths, speak­ing in terms of what might have been. Ken MacLeod has an inter­est­ing post on the mat­ter. (The blo­go­sphere has been my first port of call for inform­a­tion about the event; the BBCi serv­ers were often unreach­able, under­stand­ably, but there’s some­thing about con­nect­ing dir­ectly to those blog­ging about the tragedy that makes the world seem a little smal­ler.)

Meanwhile — and this seems crash­ingly trivi­al in the shad­ow of such atro­city — freel­ance edit­or Rachel Hazelwood has returned a 12-page report on my latest nov­el, Proper Job. Rachel has been prompt, pro­fes­sion­al, intel­li­gent and clear in her cri­ti­cisms, which were invari­ably con­struct­ive. I can recom­mend her for any­one wish­ing to pol­ish their manu­script before sub­mit­ting it to a pub­lish­er or an agent. In my exper­i­ence, pub­lish­ers and agents do not see the poten­tial in a work unless such poten­tial in real­ised under their noses as they read.

I can breathe a sigh of relief because the report is gen­er­ally pos­it­ive, and Rachel thinks that the book is already quite good, which I find very encour­aging because it’s a first draft and I can’t read even a page of it without win­cing at missed oppor­tun­ity, jokes in need of repair, and clumsy phrases. Still, the pro­cess of writ­ing is 10% first draft and 90% bug­ger­ing about with it.

Time to get bug­ger­ing about.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

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