Holiday’s over. The structural edit of Anyone For Seconds? just landed on my desk, although thanks to the great British Christmas/New Year shutdown I have until January to deal with it. And exactly how do I do that? What is my process? To find out, I thought I’d allow that well-known red-top journalist Larry O’Gargle to interview me.
O’G: So, Lauren, how do you tackle revisions?’
LG: It’s Laurie, actually. Well I do the easiest bits first. Typos, grammatical bloopers, that kind of thing. Then I look at my editor’s comments.
O’G: That must be pretty galling. I mean, it’s your book. Your editor’s not Colm Feckin Toibin is he? What does he know?
LG: No, I don’t think Colm needs editing gigs these days. But funnily enough editors sometimes make very good suggestions. They have the benefit of distance.
O’G: Because he’s in London and you’re in Dublin?
LG: I meant creative distance. An editor hasn’t been living with those characters for nine months. They see things more clearly.
O’G: Okay. So this editor says “I think you should do this, this and this”. Then what?
LG: I give each suggestion careful consideration.
O’G: And then?
LG: I go for a walk. Clean the windows. Put a new plug on the iron. Then I start working the good suggestions into the story. It isn’t easy because my first draft is quite tightly written.
O’G: You mean you’ve had a few when you sit down at the typewriter?
LG: No, I mean structurally it’s quite tight. To introduce something new, for instance, means taking things apart a bit first. Like unravelling an almost finished sweater to incorporate a new motif.
O’G: Such as a Rudolf the Red-Nosed reindeer head?
O’G: And what about the suggestions you don’t like?
LG: I ignore them.
O’G: Do you, you little divil! Doesn’t that land you on the bold step?
LG: No. My editor respects my judgment and I respect hers.
O’G: Isn’t that something. Well thank you, Lauren Grantham, for that very interesting glimpse into the life of a scribbler. And good luck with Rudolf head.