If I only learn one thing this year, it will be this: in the mind of its author, a book is never perfect.
When I decided to serialize ‘Hallbury Summer’ in this blog through the Summer and Autumn, my plan was to break up the chapters of a book I had already written and published into shorter episodes. I anticipated a lighter workload than that which a completely new composition represented, enabling me to shift attention onto other things.
How wrong was I?
From the very first split of the very first chapter I was led by my compulsion to edit, altering tenses, swapping word order, re-jigging the paragraphs that, when I re-read them, no longer seemed smooth to me. Minor things I thought would get better as the chopping down process progressed didn’t. In fact, dear and tolerant readers, they got worse!
Now, as I spin Episode 23 into an MS Word document I find myself altering whole scenes. I am weaving new material in and rejecting the old, to a point where I can no longer claim that the published version and the serialized version are the same book! So when I promised at the beginning of this venture that you could take a shortcut if you wished by purchasing the Kindle book, I fear I may have (unintentionally) misled you. There are changes; among other things, the ending will be different.
How different? I don’t know yet!
And that’s the exciting thing, you see, because I’ve just seen the digital light. Once upon a not-very-long-time-ago when your book went to print, that was all: like the felled tree, the wood would no longer grow, only begin the business of dying. The author would move on, leaving that small trail of forgotten titles rotting in his wake.
But now! Ho, ho, now! Now you can take it back almost at will, the book, you can return to it, breathe new life between its pages, and the story is the better for your being there, because you have brought it that much closer to perfection. That’s what I’ve done with ‘Hallbury Summer’ – I’ve revitalised it: in my mind at least I have raised it higher, and it is a better story thereby.
This is not to say the old book is bad – it’s not, or I don’t consider it so. It’s different, reflecting a perspective of a few years ago, and redolent of my thinking then. I will, however, replace its contents with the serialized version as soon as I have finished it here.
In the meantime, the original remains live on Kindle, linked here on your left if you wish to investgate!