I have come to North Wales to edit the novel and have a bit of a rest and change of scene after my long slog. The weather's weird: you wouldn't know it was supposed to be summer: although it's been sunny it's been cold, especially here up on this mountain. Yesterday people nearby woke to a blanket of hail on the ground, and there was snow on the top of Snowdon. Today we've got winds and rain that are apparently sweeping the whole of the country, but the winds are very fierce here, as they so often are (and I'm unable to download pics off the internet before I get too tired of waiting for them). The crows who have a nest in the trees nearby are going quite mad, cawing and flinging themselves around: I'd go and investigate if it wouldn't mean getting utterly drenched.
It took me five days to edit the novel and print it off, and after that I passed it to John, my first reader who's here with me. I'm happy to say he sat laughing and weeping and read it with great greed and speed, and although he seemed to my pessimistic mind to be making a lot of scribbles, he didn't make all that many after all: just some typos, one or two sentences needing clarifying, and some notes about needing greater clarity in one or two places near the end of the novel.
Just as I'd finished, we had a problem with the wood-burning stove and the whole house was filled with smoke, with the result that the limewashed walls all went brown. Yesterday we re-whitewashed the whole of the downstairs room and up the stairs, and today we gave most of it a second coat, and what struck us was the thing that always strikes me whenever I do anything practical after writing: how quickly one can get practical jobs over and done with, compared to writing! It's especially true of course of long pieces, but it applies to short written pieces, too: sometimes they need so much mulling over, and quite often you go back to them again and again as you think of improvements or ways to develop them.
Meanwhile, I've been reading Hungry, the Stars and Everything by Emma Unsworth, the first novel published by the new Manchester press The Hidden Gem, run by Sherry and Brian Ashworth. Well, actually, I read it in a single day: it's an extremely readable and enjoyable novel hinged on a striking idea - more when I have time to write in more detail. I'm hoping to be back in Manc for the launch at 6.30 at the Portico Library on Thursday, which I believe is open to all (and free), but, as the Facebook page says, 'if you would like to come it would be helpful to send an email to Sherry and Brian Ashworth at firstname.lastname@example.org or Katie at K.Slade@hotmail.co.uk'