Well, it took me 2 months but I have now read through the 1st draft of my novel manuscript that Marc Pienaar kindly sub-edited for me. 2 things became immediately clear: I had a fairly major pacing problem and I had not written the book I have been talking about all this time.
It’s not that I hate it or am going to throw it away; it’s just clearly and obviously NOT what I had said it was going to be. Somehow it just took a walk in its own direction and became an ensemble cast narrative about Johannesburg life, not some examination of how the nature of that city impinges on one’s psyche.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about that at first. I mean, the implications were pretty far reaching. There were other things that needed fixing, such as creating greater distinction between the various narrative voices and some of the linkage between episodes of the book. How I responded to this realisation would dictate what course the 2nd draft would follow.
In the end I realised that I was happy with how the story turned out and thought that maybe the initial idea had been a bit opaque anyway. As a result I am now very busy putting into effect the changes I noted with the read through and pulling the whole story together tighter. Now it is starting to present a far clearer and easier to understand reflection of the Jozi life that I ended up portraying.
Getting to this point was an interesting process. I considered culling characters and sections in order to get back to my vision, extracting a couple of narrative threads to build an entire new book out of and more. But in the end I realised that I likes the story that I had written, but it needed some serious tidying and tightening up. As usual, I had been in too much of a hurry!
Also the dip in pace that occurs in the 2nd quarter has a clear solution and I am able to remove some of the pieces that contribute to it while sorting out the others with a bit of a brutal re-write!
By the time I finish this 2nd or 3rd draft I am now confident it will be a better, more interesting book. It’s still a long way from seeing the light of day, but I am now happy that it will. I will be continuing to publish small extracts on Facebook as I work my way through, just to keep teasing you.