Moths, Mistakes and Other Miscellaneous Matters
This is almost a kind of Dear Diary sort of blog post, a catching up of news and recent events. There’s been a lot going on, though most of it is internal and not really ready for public consumption.
First piece of news, if you were one of those who has been waiting for The Moth’s Kiss to appear in paperback, then the wait is over. It’s now available for purchase and there will be a cyber-party on my Facebook page on Sunday. I’ve been very pleased with the way Createspace works and how much easier the dashboard is to use than the one Lulu provides. I’ve gone right off Lulu when I discovered they’d made a deal with AuthorHouse, whose reputation may be discovered by looking them up on Preditors and Editors. But even before then I felt their customer services left a lot to be desired and I’m glad I only have a couple of books out with them. I intend to re-publish those via Createspace and withdraw them from sale via Lulu.
One of the difficult things I have done in the last week is to finally re-edit Strangers and Pilgrims. It was the first book I had published but I had little to do with the production of it to start with. I don’t want to go into it in any detail, but last weekend was for me a process of catharsis and forgiveness. I’ve long been aware that there are more typos in the text than is reasonable but have been unable to do anything about it. Even when I had regained control of the book, the circumstances around it made me feel so desperately ill and upset that I have been unable to face the process of proofing it again. I’ve not even actually read it again until the weekend. Imagine you had a child stolen from you at a young and formative age and then returned some years later without having the ability to tell you what had or hadn’t happened to them; that’s what it felt like. I was very uncomfortable about the book because I no longer knew it. I have had some amazing reviews, and I have also had emails and messages from people who felt that the book had truly helped them heal from trauma and sorrows. But I’ve also had some scathing, negative reviews that have smarted and have actually made it harder to revisit my own text for fear of what I might find there. One four star review stated that had it not been for the typos it would have easily merited five stars.
I’m not sure I can explain why I was so terrified of getting down and weeding out the mistakes. It needed doing and not doing it was going to potentially damage my credibility as a serious author. It became the elephant in my room. Last weekend, though, the strength to tackle it came and it was only when I had finished did I realise that the date (the weekend of Halloween, All Hallows’ Day and All Souls’ Day) corresponded exactly with the times the final section of the book covered. Spooky. I’d not planned it or noticed it until the end.
I also noticed something else. The process of editing was one of also healing: healing the less-than-perfectly-cared-for manuscript and also a kind of healing for me. I began to see why, for the first time since I wrote it, people had found it such a powerful book, one which had eased their sorrows and given the food for thought. I’d begun to believe that because it was flawed with too many tiny errors and associated with a difficult time in my life, that it was a poor book.
I’ve completely changed my mind.
I think it’s the kind of book that will polarise people, though, and I am fine with that. A few negative carping reviews, the association of the book with betrayal of trust and broken friendship had all conspired to make me keep that book at emotional arm’s length.
And that’s interesting for many reasons. I’m the kind of person who feels my faults outweigh my virtues and I tend to negate my own good qualities. I’d been treating the book the same way, which is so wrong. I was able to read the book with much greater kindness and understanding than I’d ever imagined I could, and I was able to see that it needed only the specks and spots removing, rather than needing to be completely destroyed. In some of my darker days I have wanted to delete the book entirely for its connection to painful times and bad memories. I knew that wasn’t fair so I kept it at a distance. I think unconsciously I knew the time would come for it to be given a new chance. So the Kindle edition has been re-uploaded, with a new acknowledgements page, and while I hope I have cleared all the typos, I imagine a few might still be there. If there are, I apologise. But this brings me to the other aspect of this: true perfection is not about the absence of mistakes, but rather the ability to bring something to its potential and more often than not, this will include scars and flaws. Unlike some, who believe that a failure to wipe out every little mistake as if it had never happened is a moral failure, I’ve never believed that there is such a thing as a fatal flaw. I don’t believe that a t in the wrong place or (horror of horrors!) a misplaced apostrophe, constitute a degradation of a book. I know that the finding of a mistake in a text can for many lift them out of the story in a jarring way, but that said, I think it’s inevitable that some slip through even multiple readers.
As I said earlier, I intend to produce a new edition of the book, with Createspace, so if you were thinking of buying a paperback, better to hold off until then, or accept that the current edition may not be as perfect as it might be.
The last months of 2013 are on us, and I hope to release The Wild Hunt in paperback very shortly, and also The Bet. Then there are the other novels who have been waiting very patiently to see the light of day and reach new readers. I’m working on those now. I’m also working on producing a couple of small volumes of poetry, themed according to various ideas. One is running with the provisional title of “Spelt from Sibyl’s Leaves” and the other, “Venus Squints”. I suspect these won’t be out before Christmas, though. I’m also working to collate essays from this blog for a book, but as that is a fairly massive undertaking, I think the likelihood is this will be a project for next year.