Hazel McHaffie


Aiming for perfection

Well, what an amazing beginning to the year 2010!

Temperatures up here have sunk to minus thirteen – minus sixteen a bit further north. It’s snowed every day except one for three weeks now. We’ve slipped and slithered to a few events – the ones that weren’t cancelled – but the roads have been deadly.

But it’s stunningly beautiful. I keep reaching for the camera …

… with due care, of course. Don’t want to fall and break that expensive lens … or both my arms … and end up totally helpless … like someone in the advanced stages of dementia … like my character, Doris Mannering, in Remember Remember … Fanciful? Yes. But then aren’t all creative writers? Imagining yourself into a person or place is what it’s all about.

And I’ve been doing a lot of imagining this week. It’s the big edit. ‘Be severe,’ said my editor. And ‘kill the baby’ (which in common parlance means, erase the bits you love best). I’ve been severe all right! Twenty-eight thousand words have been cut. That’s more words than many a dissertation. And every one of those twenty-eight thousand words has been thought up, written down, read several times and now deleted. For ever. Weird way of filling your time, huh? But fortunately for me I’m sufficiently distant from the original draft for it not to be too painful. There’s something to be said for publishers’ delays after all!

I finished this mammoth stint at 10.30 last night and sent it off to my editor. But then, in the night … you know about my subconscious mind … I had an idea … As the saying on my old computer had it: Perfection is always one more draft away. And because we’re never satisfied, we go on … and write another novel … and another … always hoping … this time …

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