Thursday, February 26, 2015

Extracts from our author correspondence

Over the course of our working with an author to bring a text to a publishable state of completion, it is par for the course to see many dozens of emails and letters exchanged. It seems a shame at times that the attention, appreciation and rapport on display in this correspondence can't also be shared in the book, alongside and around the text which was its cause for being. There is much in this halo of text-around-the-text that would charm or illuminate the reader. By way of example:

One of our Press authors (an actor, professionally) not long ago wrote to us regarding her novel in progress. Her reflection on novel-writing is a valuable insight into her self-knowledge as a writer:
I find I cannot write but inch-by-inch, word-by-word, like a poet does. Somehow I cannot make the large picture into a motor. The intricate specificity of a chain of moments: this is the province of an actor. I am not a terrible director, but my chief talent is for another type of thought; but I hope maybe someday to come up with not-a-terrible novel. 
And now for a bit of charm. In this excerpt from our correspondence with the same author, she responds to our editor's suggestions for the revision of a line of text. Of the two alternatives proposed, she writes:
The first is clearly lovelier, though you know I liked the image of being on "stilts in a sea of jelly." I'm such a sucker for an unusual metaphor and a clear image. . . I have never cared for poems that play hard to get. I have no time for it in personal relationships, either. A smiler, not smirker. That's my goal. Some would argue this was to my detriment in both cases.
(Emphasis added). The phrase "stilts on a sea of jelly" just begs for focused attention on its playful image, doesn't it? Well: we keep scrupulous records here in the office, so perhaps there will be a time when we produce a 'social text' edition of one of our books. It's a project we shall have to see done someday...

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