Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Crash, bash, whack to the floor go the Dead Darlings. The Co-Writer is in butcher’s mode in our editing conference today; she has been in a meeting all morning and is in no mood for nonsense.
‘I might just save some of the quotes,’ I say, pathetically.
‘Trim, trim,’ she says.
There is an interesting thing about the Darlings. They fall into three categories. The first is Sheer Self-Indulgence. This is when you think you are being hysterically witty, but in fact you are the only one laughing. I suffer from a hideous tendency to laugh at my own jokes anyway, so I fall into that first category every time, as if it were a huge elephant trap and I were an elephant with the memory of a goldfish.
The second category is things which are genuinely not bad, and even quite clever or entertaining, but have no place here. These are the hardest to kill. They might be nice turns of phrase, or lovely emblematic paragraphs, but they have been said before, or they are elaborating on a point already well made, or they are shooting off on a tangent too far. I am addicted to tangents; it’s like some kind of genetic defect.
And the third category is a slight misnomer, because it is not really Darlings at all, but actual buggery bollocks, it’s just you are so lost in deadline madness that you cannot see and need someone else to point it out to you.
So I set up a Dead Darlings file, which softens the pain. I am not doing delete, delete, so the agonisingly crafted words fly out into the ether, laughing at my puny plan. I do cut, and paste, so the poor battered things may live to fight another day.
I wrote another 729 words after the editing conference, and then snuck back to the Darlings file like a naughty child into a sweet cupboard. (Is there such a thing as a sweet cupboard? Sorry, frontal cortex really is a car wreck now.)
And here is the thing. Some of it was awful. Torn out of context, the repetitive tropes or flat platitudes stared reproachfully up at me from the page. Then there was some reasonable stuff, but I could see quite well it was extraneous. And then there were some glittery little Saxon hoards, some piles of treasure, and I dusted them off, polished them a little, held them up to the light, and in a terrible act of transgressive defiance, put them back in.
All I can say is it is a bloody good thing the Co-Writer is far too busy to read this blog at the moment.
Here is the really crazy part. The Dead Darlings file is now 7000 words long. Even after that bloody cull, I have still written 99,000 words of book, and I have decided that there must be a culture chapter. I want to put in stuff about Queen Elizabeth I, because a book is not a book without a bit of Virgin Queen.
There is a very real danger that I am now completely out of control.
Two sets of photographs today. The first are from last night, when I was driving back from a village about six miles to our north-east. This is what I got to see on the drive home:
The farmers are finally getting the harvest in, after the cold summer and the dank of the last couple of weeks, which made them despair. But now look:
I always think they look like great cotton reels:
Then there are the wild blue mountains, which roll like the sea:
To the north, the view is very typical of this county, with its lush farmland and wooded hills behind and coat of many colours look:
The road home:
Coming back to my house from the south, this is what I see:
And then there was this fella:
Staring right at me, bold as brass:
This evening, in the garden, the little sedum cutting really seems to have taken:
One lone astrantia is putting out a second flowering:
Every day I think the lavender must be over, but it keeps on keeping on:
I'm afraid there might be rather a lot of the geraniums, hydrangea and marjoram over the next few days:
The pot table:
Pigeon, offering three of her different faces.
Mid-ball happy face:
Imperative sniffing the air pose:
(She does this quite a lot. I always wonder what it is, exactly, that she is scenting. It reminds me very much of her sister.)
I am inscrutable, elegant, and many other adjectives that only dogs can hear:
And the hill, rather faded and mauve behind the increasingly gaudy young horse chestnut:
I hope you had a fine Friday.
I have to work early tomorrow, but I am quite seriously considering saying sod it and making myself a very dry martini. There is Smirnoff Black in the freezer. It seems rude not to.