An account of recent events

So what has been happening recently? I can’t really remember, but I’m sure it’ll come back to me as I type.

It was world book night a few weeks ago and I saw the three programs that the BBC showed on the Saturday evening. I don’t normally watch a lot of tv but I was really ill that day and so I was already sat on the couch watching whatever happened to come on (including a retrospective of The Good Life) and so I was lucky to catch them. Of the three the one I particularly enjoyed was the one about selecting a list of emerging authors. I picked a few books out of the list they came up with that I was interested in reading and today finished the first, The Wilderness by Samantha Harvey. It was long-listed for the Booker prize in 2009 but this program was the first I had heard of it. I guess the difference between long-listed and short-listed is very significant. Anyway, I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I thought I was going to from the emphatic way the panel made it the first book they selected. The book was split into two alternating sections, one set in the present day and one made up of fragmented memories. The stuff dealing with the specifics of¬†Alzheimer’s was interesting and the protagonists slow decay was really nicely handled, but the memories, which could have been really amazing, occasionally felt a little stilted. I don’t want to criticize too harshly because I think it might be that I had been expecting a slightly different book from the one I got. I went into reading it with Slaughterhouse Five in mind for some reason.

On the subject of World Book Night, it turns out to have had a good result. The 25 books that were given away free have seen a corresponding increase in sales, so in the cold language of money made it can be viewed as a clear success.

So what else? I learned how not to split an infinitive, and more importantly, why I perhaps shouldn’t worry about whether I have accidentally split one or not. This post on the subject reminds and reinforces the idea that grammar is a tool to aid communication, not a device by which self-appointed grammar-police mock and deride people who don’t confirm to their occasionally arbitrary rules.

The moon veered closer to us than normal and looked like this from my front garden.

My novel is coming along slower than I expected. Currently I am working on the third draft, a line by line edit where I check that the phrasing, spelling, grammar and logic are good. This is taking a fair bit of time but is very worthwhile. Lines that I have read so many times that I had become a little blind to them are getting some proper scrutiny, which is proving necessary. For example:

One of the overhead lights fizzed and stuttered in a distracting half-strobe.

What exactly is a half-strobe? Wouldn’t that just be a light that either is on or off? I changed it to a more sensible:

One of the overhead lights fizzed and stuttered erratically.

Better I think.

I’m planning on making the first three chapters available for free on this blog, so when the third draft is complete I’ll make a page for it. I’m doing some research into the different types of e-reader file, as well as a generic .pdf, so I can make it as broadly accessible as possible.

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