Sunday, September 27, 2009

This I know. I think.

Latest news from the medicos is that I've got about ten to fifteen years left. Not long, so I'll make this quick.

This is what I've learnt from a long and fairly miserable lifetime of struggle. The accumulated wisdom of waving from the deep end with nobody noticing.

1 I'm not sure of anything anymore

2 Moderate drinking won't do you much good

3 Don't be shy. It's no good asking her when she's old and fat. Especially if you're old and fat.

4 There are no great managers, only a few good ones

5 Clean your teeth regularly

6 Take small steps but take lots of them

7 Don't be afraid to ask.

8 What have you learned? Be brief.

More later, once the medication has kicked in.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No flowers please

Okay, now that I know for certain that I'm dying - I was sixty-one a couple of months back - I'm going to give this blogging lark one last bash before I go. A final whimper. A tottering finale. The last rights. Writes. Rhights? Whatever. A sombre postscript. Nasty, British and short.

Because I expect to be so ill with my impending infirmity I won't be responding to Comments. My eyesight will be so bad I probably won't even be able to read them. No great loss though. My brain was the first vital organ to pack in and as a result my answers probably wouldn't make any sense. Speling was the first thing to go. Followed by earectyle dyisfungsion (deliberately misspelled in case there's any kids reading).

The objective in this futile venture will be to impart the wisdom I've accumulated in my interminable time on this sterile promontory so you won't make the same dismal mistakes I did. That should give me about three posts. The rest I will make up using a combination of imagination and irrational optimism which will be fun to read, albeit less educational. There won't be much time so I'll keep the posts brief but regular. It will be but a pale - pail? - imitation of what went before, when blogging was briefly fashionable. My only regret is that if I still had my own teeth and not this borrowed set it might all have been so different. Not being able to chew is an absolute bugger.

The doctors don't know how long I've got but the nurse said that I shouldn't bother renewing my Sky subscription this year. Of course, as she said, it's not all bad news. Think how much I will save going forward. No taxes, no tips, no food bills, no electricity etc. Just the funeral service and a small wake -whake? No sex either of course. Especially if I don't have Sky.

Because of this deadline imposed by a higher authority I've started converting the novel I've been writing into a play, to save time. Anyone can write a play after all. Odd though, how it changes things when you lose the authorial voice. As I might do at any time.

Anyway, it's getting dark now, harder to see, dimmer. Everything seems fainter, further way.

Shouldn't have had that third glass of wine I guess. Especially not in my condition. One foot in the grave and one in the gutter. Some things don't change.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Does editing work?

My biggest regret after I published my novel A Half Life Of One online was that I hadn't had it professionally edited.

A number of reviews pointed out the numerous typos and the odd inconsistency or two. The realisation that I'd previously been sending out an inferior manuscript to a long list of disinterested publishers made me blush with shame.

I finally bit the bullet last year and paid out £300 to get the mss edited. Not just proof-read, but a full report, suggestions and critique. Reading the corrected mss was a salutary experience. Not that I agreed with everything the editor said, but the flaws were plain to see. To be frank, my writing was rubbish. That wasn't my editor's opinion, that was mine.

Oddly though, a number of people have read the book online and I get the regular email praising the novel. Some people have even bought it. Maybe it wasn't so bad. But how could I tell?

Fortunately I've kept some statistics on the visitors the book has received over the past year. I know, for example, that it averages around 25 visitors a day. Each visitor stays on average for around six seconds, which I guess is the equivalent of someone browsing through the titles displayed in a bookshop.

I figure that if I start feeding the newly-edited version of the book online these stats should improve. In particular, I'm keen to see what difference the new first chapter will make. I can see from my stat meter that if someone reads past the first few pages (or maybe even paragraphs) I've got a good chance of keeping them for the duration. Editing should significantly improve the proportion of browsers who read on.

So, I'll let you know if the edited version of the book turns out to be any more popular than the original. I'll even carry out a cost/benefit analysis on the editing process and see if it was money well spent. Hell, if the feedback is positive I might even send the book out on its rounds once more in the faint hope of finding a publisher. If I'm successful, that really would be money well spent.