Apologies, people, for my long absence from updating my blog. I've just had so much to do. I've spent a great deal of time working on the book, which is now finished!
There were times when I thought I would never be happy with it. I've spent the last couple of months in a back-and-forth with the publishers, where they send me the optimistically-named 'final proof' and I make a few changes and send it back. I have started to get obsessive about punctuation. Should I use a colon or a comma? Would a semi-colon be better? Should the sentences in my poems flow as normal, or should I be using punctuation stylistically? Should I be using punctuation at all? Maybe the e e cummings approach would be better. Or the James Joyce style, making one sentence last for three chapters. What is the 'right' answer?
I don't know, is the easy answer. That's why I've changed my mind so much. My wife could confirm that I'm never happy with anything I've done. There was always something I wanted to do differently. Should I use an 'and' or a 'but'? A 'for' or a 'because'?
So getting a series of 'final proofs' was just a red flag to a bull! Let's change a comma into a full stop on this draft, and then change it to a colon on the next! How about I drop a repeated refrain and then bring it back again? Does the publisher hate me yet? I think somehow we managed to keep the relationship cordial, but the lovely Lynsey, with her bottomless patience, has to take the lion's share of the credit. I nearly drove her over the edge, though, when I tried to change the contents the week before the book was due to be reviewed! I'd written a new poem that I wanted to get included, but was told very politely that I'd already made too many changes. Fair enough. If you're reading this because you'd got the URL from the back of my book, you may be interested in the poem I tried to include. It's below:
An Epitaph for Justice
Justice died alone
And was eaten by her cats.
After a while, the smell
Was put down to the drains
And then ignored.
Her body remains undiscovered.
Justice died of a broken heart.
She had seen what was done in her name
By those who did not understand
That the law was not justice per se:
It was just there to protect it.
She had witnessed the deaths
Of de Menezes and Tomlinson,
The attack on habeas corpus,
The detention without charge.
She had seen the policy of
'Innocent until proven Muslim',
As the war on terror itself became terror,
Wrapped up in the systematic dismantling of the right to protest.
She had seen her legacy
Squandered by scared little men
And she had cried.
And when she had stopped crying,
She had reached for a razor
And cut her own throat.
If Justice would not be heeded,
She may as well not speak.
And as she slumped,
As her lifeblood flowed from her
And her face turned blue and then grey,
The world tilted
And some of the point went out of it.
I guess maybe it was a little bleak for the book...