Any fool can write a book – it takes an assassin to edit the result.

As I sit here stalling on a lovely bright Iowa morning when a bike ride would be very pleasant, I know that today I have to join forces with my copy editor in New Zealand, online, and begin once more to rewrite the manuscript, line by line. Just like I’m doing with this post.

No wonder I have trepidatious procrastinandium, an affliction so rare one is forced to invent words to describe it. Stalling is too prosaic a word for the condition that manifests when I look at those blue Track Changes speech balloons, as above – and my knees knock.

When it will ever be over (never, like Old Possum Eliot opined)? Well, if mere poems are abandoned, long prose works should by virtue of their sheer volume be deserted many times over. The truth is, we have to cling to them, combing and tuning and playing with syntax, until the sentence both is correct grammatically (Oxford Writers and Editors’ Dictionary, or similar) and pleasing to the ear (pray yours are not tin, or cloth).

Do I sound carping, ungrateful for that smiling assassin of infelicity and poor eyesight who awaits my every move: Mike Wagg? Not at all, but when you realise what is at stake, that this thing will probably outlive you if it’s any good, then you want to build it right.

That said, I’d better get on with it – and I will, I will – except a cheque has just arrived, handily, and I need to go the bank (I do, I do). Back soon.


About paparoa

Writer and researcher.
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