After about ten days of working non-stop on editing a book, I'm finally re-emerging into the land of the living.
Ken Ludden (director of the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet
) has been staying with me this last week or so and apart from a break one evening to see my morris dance side, I think we've been working about ten hours a day on his book.
'My Margot' is making good progress now. We've got all the material written (bar a few small bits that will only add two pages at most), got pretty much everything dated (trying to work out when a particular ballet was performed around thirty years ago can be a real nightmare and I lef that task mainly to Ken. His press clippings collection was a great help.), have managed to find correct spellings for many (but not all) of the names of people who appear at various points in the narative. I've probably chucked out (as I expected to do from the start) around a sixth of the original material - at the start of this process we didn't always know which bits were going to be relevant, so Ken simply wrote everything and then I picked out the parts to use to constuct the book.
The hardest part is taking a collection of a hundred or more independent stories and finding ways to turn them into a coherent narrative. We've made good progress on that front too. I'm making the writing more consistent in style (which has been happening naturally to some extent, as Ken got feedback from me on the style we were aiming for). Now, the biggest task is going through, adding linking text where we don't already have it, checking all back references (making sure that all things mentioned as happening earlier are indeed mentioned earlier in the book), removing all duplicate tellings of the same story (often there are several natural places for a story to appear), making sure that we haven't accidentally deleted all versions of a story, etc.
The other hard part is to decide how much 'non-Margot' stuff to leave in. Stuff about Rudolf Nureyev obviously stays. Stuff about BQ, Margot's mother, is pretty easy to keep in (not least becaue she was a great character), but I may (with reluctance) have to take out the interesting bit about the time Liza Minelli's show came to the Kennedy Centre - though it did lead to Ken getting a job there, and that job was how he ended up seeing so much of Margot...
In many ways, the text editing (improving grammar, sentence structure and the like) is the easy part!
PS. If anyone else has any editing work they need doing, (I don't mean proof-reading: I mean serious work on the text and structure of a book, prefereably working closely with the writer) then drop me a line and I'll discuss costs.