Apologies. Â It was unprofessional of me to air this disagreement publicly. Â It’s one thing to blog about the editing process, and another to air one’s editorial differences in a public forum. Â I’ve already apologized to my editor (who hadn’t read the blog post, and, when I described it to him, said he didn’t mind), but I’d also like to apologize to all of you. Â I try to make this blog useful – and I think Wednesday’s post, though it was certainly useful for me, also stemmed from a motivation that was more personal than utilitarian. Â I’ve since considered deleting it, but I decided it would be better to leave it up, acknowledge my misstep, and apologize. Â So. Â Apologies. Â I shall strive to do better in future.
Good news. Â I had a productive conversation with my editor yesterday morning. Â We’ve mapped out a path forward, and I have a much clearer understanding of his expectations for the manuscript. Â Now that I understand him, I think we’re mostly on the same page (as it were). Â As readers of earlier posts on the editorial process will be aware,Â I’ve been doing my best to follow the guidance of both editor and readers. Â I’ve never written a biography before, and am grateful for the help. Â While I have some facility at writing scholarship,Â I’ve had to teach myself to write narrative. Â I’m getting better at it, but I’m well aware that I lack the skills of a fiction writer – skills helpful to constructing narrative. Â So, in addition to mixed messages not helping, I also reallyÂ need very specific advice about precisely what to change.
In our conversation yesterday, I gained some clarity. Â My editor’s single most helpful comment was to identifyÂ my problem as the conflict between (a) trying to create a completist biography and (b) trying to create a critical biography. Â What I should do is focus on the critical biography, and reduce the completist elements. Â As he noted earlier in our conversation, were this a new biography of, say, Ernest Hemingway or Maurice Sendak, then the manuscript’s current length could be justified. Â Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss do not (yet!) have that kind of cultural importance. Â So, grasping the critical vs. completist issue helps me better assess where I need to excise detail, paragraph, section, and so on. Â Some of the cuts will end up in The Complete Barnaby (Fantagraphics, 2012-2014). Â Others will appear on this blog. Â Still others will just stay on my hard drive.
One other important update. Â The Purple Crayon and a Hole to Dig: The Lives of Crockett Johnson and Ruth Krauss will not appear in April 2012. Â Expect it in June 2012. Â I need time to make these revisions, and UP Mississippi needs a year’s production time from receipt of final manuscript.
Thanks. Â One happy result of this disagreement has been realizing how many kind and supportive people there are out there. Â Thanks to everyone who commented on Wednesday’s post, both on the blog itself and via Facebook. Â Thanks to the support offered (via email) by Leda Schubert, Mark Newgarden, and Dan Steffan. Â Mark offered to take a look at the ms. Dan’s suggested revisions to the opening paragraphs are so strong that (presuming he grants me permission), I’d like to use some of his suggestions. Â Thanks to my editor for the hour-long conversation yesterday morning. Â And, of course, thanks to George Nicholson, agent, friend, and cheerleader. Â I always benefit from his counsel.
Well. Â Onwards with revision and – since it’s the end of term – lots and lots of grading.