Hardback sows’ ears
I should have known you guys would get it right.
Yes, the inserted material in THE BEEKEEPER’e2’80’99S APPRENTICE was the section where the senator’e2’80’99s daughter is kidnapped in Wales.
The book, from the beginning, was unavoidably episodic, a series of linked short stories. How else to do a book about a young woman learning a craft and building a life? But the thing that ties it together as a novel, without giving away anything here for those of you who haven’e2’80’99t read it, is the Welsh section and how it relates to what follows.
That is how I write a book. Often, thankfully, the structure is there in the first draft, merely (!) needing a good polish. But occasionally the first draft itself is lacking, and I need to paw around it for a while to see why. Perhaps if I had ever taken courses in how to do this writing thing, I might not find myself stumbling around in the dark so much as I do. But I didn’e2’80’99t, so I do.
This is where a good editor comes in. An editor is a writer’e2’80’99s primary reader, and ignoring his or, more often, her criticism is almost always a mistake. Not that they are always right; they are just righter about judgments than the person who has produced the words. If an editor doesn’e2’80’99t get it, if an editor misses something or finds a sequence illogical, odds are nine out of ten readers will, too.
So I had That Conversation with my own editor yesterday, and we pinned down between us what was wrong with the first draft. Or not wrong, but simply inadequate. And then with the assignment of an impossible task, she blithely signs off and leaves me to my task, of making a sow’e2’80’99s ear into a delicately embroidered and aesthetically pleasing silken coin-purse.
However, since the book itself had its roots in an utter impossibility, and when she first trailed the faint odor of it across my nose eight months ago (saying wistfully, Wouldn’e2’80’99t it be great if you could somehow tie together Kate Martinelli and Mary Russell?) my first reaction was a firm and unequivocal, No, it simply wouldn’e2’80’99t work–since, as I say, the book has been a highly unlikely enterprise since before I signed the contract, well, hey, impossible seems to be my middle name.
Now pardon me while I pour my coffee and get back to the transformation business.