Editing and Other Necessary Frustrations

Head down and working away on major rewrites of the 'work in progress'. Actually, this work has been in progress for some time. I wrote the first 'incarnation' - it has undergone so many changes that I hesitate to call it a draft - some years ago. Editorial comments were mixed and I was a bit miffed. Over the years, though, I realised that they had been quite right. There were all kinds of things wrong with it, and although I had been equally right to wait, and ponder, the book essentially needed such major rewrites that it is now a completely different novel! Cue forward some years to my new agent, who has given me additional feedback, of such an interesting and inspirational nature that I'm busy with more rewrites. These are in the nature of additions, a whole new dimension added to a character - which means that other sections can go, and yet others can be changed accordingly. The process is fascinating because it doesn't so much involve change as interrogating what was already there to find out what else I need to know. I was right about this particular character - but only as far as it went, and it didn't go half far enough. It's like turning a casual acquaintance into a close friend.
It is a precarious process and in undertaking it, you are queasily aware that one false move could result in an implosion and the whole project could disintegrate. On the other hand it's very exciting - and besides, I have the previous draft, so nothing is lost. But it's part of what makes the whole process of creative writing so fascinating. You're never quite sure where it's going, and if you did know, from day one, that process would become so boring that you wouldn't need to write at all. I think above all else, you write to find out. If you don't want to find out, then there's no point in writing at all.

Criminal Justice

What a fine actor Maxine Peake is! She can do more with a look than most people can do with a flood of words - it must be wonderful to write for such an actor, because you could allow yourself to be understated, knowing that she wouldn't need everything to be made too explicit. She seems to have gone from strength to strength over the years - not always a 'pleasure' to watch because she goes unerringly for roles which are demanding, of the viewer, as well as the actor. But always admirable, always real, always moving. Criminal Justice - five hours, five nights, finished last night and for a wonder, I managed to see every episode. I can't say I would ever want to watch it again. And I think if I had had a young child (remembering how vulnerable one feels on their behalf) I would never have managed to stay the pace. Too distressing. But none of that is to say that it wasn't categorically the best thing on TV for a very very long time. Everything else pales beside it. When it was finished, the now familiar announcement came on - 'If you were affected by any of the issues in this drama...' etc and we chorused 'who the hell wouldn't be?'