the state of things


The Finishing End Is In Sight

by Douglas Lindsay - 10:55 on 01 May 2008
Lost in Juarez, the novel, the "explosive new political thriller" or however I choose to describe it next, is almost done. It's been a long time coming. Went to New Zealand for three weeks at Easter, which interfered with the writing process. Took the laptop with me, which was an act of unbridled optimism. Imagined writing on the plane, or sitting in the hell of LAX, or during a slow spell in the white water rafting. It at least allowed my missus to download eight thousand photos along the way.

The book is mostly in shape. About the length that I wanted it to be, short, snappy, punchy. You go over something that you wrote five months previously, and realise you were just throwing words at the page. Too many of them. I've cut about 15,000 words in the last week, lost about forty pages. It's quite liberating to ditch a whole chapter. When I wrote the second and third Barney Thomson books for Piatkus, they asked that they be between 90,000 and 120,000 words long. The first one had been about 70,000. So I threw words at the page and never had to go through the process of cutting back. Consequently, both those books are horribly overlong.

So Lost in Juarez is mostly in order. If I died now, someone could take it off the computer and publish it without having to give it to Ian Rankin to finish it off. It may, of course, be complete mince. It's hard not to lose all perspective of a book by the time you get to the end. The next stage is to let a few people read it, only this time I'll have to ask them to do it quickly. This is just for the odd small thing, to see if they can spot holes in the plot, discrepancies, that kind of thing. If five people come back and tell me that it's total garbage, then it's too late. No time to rewrite. Wouldn't have the enthusiasm to rewrite either. Have an end of the book feeling of flat dejection. Although it's not that I'm disappointed in it, it's the book, more or less, that I wanted it to be.

Yesterday, last day of the month, was sales figures day. April was the worst month in two years for Barney Thomson books. Have a feeling of utter gloom and pessimism about the series. Already need to delay the last in the series, The Final Cut, from this year, as I've taken so long to do Juarez.

Fighting the urge to walk off into the sunset and become a Front Of House Cafe Assistant.

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