It still feels presumptuous to talk about ‘the book I am writing’ but what the hell! I now am up to date, in that all the episodes of ‘Past Imperfect’ are on one document and I have done some preliminary editing – for example - deleting headings which are episodic (what a nice word that is) instead of chapter headings. I have done some revision and find – to my delight - I rather enjoy it. I am fumbling with chapters - where, how long, how many? My total word count so far is 97,000 but how many pages is that? I know - if I count the words on a page of the autobiography I have just finished reading and multiply by the number of pages… but then there are lots of half pages which affect the calculation. Bother!
It was a comfort to read in The DT’s Review that when , after writing two successful books about the death of her husband and then her daughter, Joan Didion on being asked to write a play said, ‘I did not want to write a play. I had never wanted to write a play. I did not know how to write play.’
On meeting David Hare, who was to direct it she asked him how ‘long’ a play should be. ‘He did a word count on his own Via Dolorosa: 15,000 give or take.’
The point being that even someone as gifted as she is, feels uncertain when tackling something new.
Vanessa Redgrave is to play the lead and I’m sure – as she did in ‘Atonement’ – will shine like the candescent star she can be. ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’ opens at the National on April 25th.
Back to the book, it’s clear I have a lot of work to do with regard to continuation and cohesion, to say nothing of coherence, conciseness and clarity. I need to read the manuscript from beginning to where I’m up to. I’m not done yet, so possibly there will have to be massive cuts. That’s much less daunting than having to pad it out. Onward and upward! I have a theory that post natal depression sets in after publication – I can comfort myself with that if nought comes of it. Meanwhile agents and publishers please form an orderly queue.