Who'd be a writer, eh? After last week's good news about the Tonto Books competition, I have spent this week looking over my novel, with the aim of getting it into as publishable form as possible. (I've read somewhere that this is an important thing to do with unpublished novels).
I didn't know, until leafing through the Writers & Artist's yearbook last week (my favourite idle read of the moment... I have a copy of it on my bedside table, between my copy of What Ho, Jeeves! and Old School) that 60,000 - 70,000 words is generally considered the optimum length for a paperback novel. Publishers and agents, apparently, find novels of this length easier to market and sell.
I can't deny that I'd love to be the sort of established literary genius who's above the rules, and who can write a book as long or as short as she damn pleases; but I also can't deny that I never pick up big books myself. Take Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell , for example. It's well written and interesting, but at about the stage where a regular size paperback would have finished, I found myself losing interest. It's not Susanna Clark's fault. It's not that her book's boring. It's that I've got one of those iPod attention spans that sees me flicking past songs if I don't like the first 10 seconds of the intros, and I'm no different with books.
Which conveniently brings me to the 'problem' of my book. It's way over 60,000 - 70,000 words, and would benefit hugely from editing. I don't know anyone who can do it for me, and so in the absence of that, I'm doing it myself: taking out all the unnecessary repetition, taking out all the irrelevant bits, making it shorter, sharper, snappier, faster, and more interesting. More... iPod.
I don't doubt that some of you are going to be seething in outrage at my comparing literature to MP3 players, but I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on this. Who else finds themselves writing or editing with an imaginary 'audience' reading their work over their shoulder? Can't be just me!