Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Eve of Hastings

Of course you knew, dear reader, that 13th October is the night before Hastings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Babies Leaving Home

you know,. it's so long since I last gave a book to publication, (six years!) I feel something of a newb, and keep having to ask my editor: so, what happens next?

Shield Wall went to be copy edited yesterday, and it's scheduled to return n the beginning of November. It's a slightly odd feeling, like fighting a battle, where the enemy come back at you again and again and again, and then suddenly you look up and the enemy have disappeared, and you realise - almost after the event, that you've won.

It's kind of like this. I waited for my editor to come back with comments, and instead he told me the book had gone to the copy editor. It's like a child leaving home. My baby has been sent off, and for the author, this is the moment that your baby leaves home and goes off to have it's own life. And you aer left behind with the memories of the first day your baby opened thier eyes, or walked, or said Dada!

Had another bolly of course, but this is a more bittersweet moment. It's my baby, going out into the world.

But heh, it's a great book! I'm sure it'll have a long and happy life.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Light the candle, infuse the tea, put the bolly on ice

If you've followed this blog at all, you'll know what a dragged out process finishing a book is. The mss ping pongs back through various stages of editing, which ranges from story, to chapter, to paragraph, to sentence, to word and then grammar. And everything in between.

But I think Shield wall is about at the end of this process. I had a few things my editor wanted me to look at, and then I had things I wanted to look at, and I procrastinated until today, because I wanted to have a day with nothing else to do but lock myself into a room with the world and the characters, and just hang out with them, in a literary kind of way.

It went well. I was spell-checking by 3pm, and had a chance to take a long walk and see if anything else came to me.

There's a niggling reluctance now, to send it in. But it's time really, and so here goes.

Somewhere, almost out of hearing, a long slow drum roll begins.....

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Larboard and Curry

Working through the last notes, I came upon a couple of interesting etymological conundrums.

The first is the word 'curry' which I have used to describe richly spiced stews. I used this word because the earliest English cook book is named 'A Form of Cury' ( written by the cook of Henry II, in AD.1390 and includes hares in talbotes and capons in coney) which delighted me, because it seemed that 'curry' had a history and etymology long before our contact with India and tumeric and vindaloo. It also seemed to reinforce the idea that medieval English cookery was much closer to the spiced food of the middle east, than our more modern cuisine.

But strangely enough, a check with the Anglo-Indian Dictionary named Hobson-Jobson, curry does indeed come from a Tami word,
kari, which meant sauce. And a check with the Oxford English Dictionary, shows that 'Cury', from a 'Forme of Cury', comes from a middle french word, the predecessor of the word cuisine. Ah well!

Another interesting one was the word 'port' for the left side of a boat, which dates from only 1855, when it was officially adopted by the British Navy. The previous word was the middle english, 'larboard' - which was the 'ladde board'. Ie the side where the gangplank went, with ladde related to the verb laden, 'to load'.

The Old English was bæcboard. Though why the backboard, as opposed to 'steorboard/starboard' I'm not sure.

October 4th, 2010

Our air con packed up half way through the night, and we threw the windows open and found that autumn had come, overnight, to Hong Kong.

There was a cool breeze, an indistinct sunrise, through drifting clouds, and a scent of smoke on the air. And - of course with autumn - a sense of passing.

Obviously, for our family, is the departure of our nanny, Rowena who is returning to the Philippines to start her own family. As we went through our morning routines, breakfast, pack and walk to school, we were aware of Rowena going through a divergent routine: pack, check passport and ticket, recheck, look forward with excitement and expectation for the airport bus.

But it's always harder to be left behind, and the air of loss is in the air, and we're hugging each other a little harder and a little more often than before.

And then, of course, there is the novel: which was batted back to me by my editor with the exhortation for 'one last heave!' but also with the 'Well done – really, really near now. You’ve done brilliant work on Eadric, Edmund , Godwin. I am really impressed.'

It's going to be finished again, today, and can't quite decide whether to go for more champagne. The problem is, really, there are a number of little stages between now and the final manuscript and I could be drunk from now till Christmas if I celebrated each one. There's proof editing, typsesetting, a few last chances for changes. Before the manuscript is printed, and published, and then the book, like rowena - or any of the friends we pick up and then misplace or lose in life - heads off towards a different destination.