I have been flagellating myself in a literary, not literal, sense these last two days. Having had two professional editors slam into my Left Luggage, I felt it was time I faced reality and turned it around. I thought I’d written it without the humour I used for many of my short stories and in Escaping Reality, but clearly my funny bone snuck itself in there. I confess I haven’t read it again properly since an agent said it was superbly written two years ago. Sadly, that agent was the since discredited Christopher Hill and so comes re-evaluation time.
The first chapter is based on a space shuttle (a newer model to the present antiques) approaching the International Space Station. They find it waltzing around when it should have been stationary - OK, geosynchronous orbit. But in solving the problem and finding an alien artifact, the crew impart too much hilarity for the editors. It made their characters unbelievable. Fair enough, even well-trained astronauts can use humour to alleviate stress – Tom Hanks did it all the time in Apollo 13. But I stretched it to incredulity. So I’ve been de-quipping. It didn’t help with the fact in my own character that I smile too much – just ask my wife. Consequently, so did my characters – so out go the smiles, sighs and shrugs – because as Al Guthrie rightly says, they are done in real life but they become cliched in fiction so find other ways to express feelings. Also out goes nodding. Until I did and edit find, I had no idea my book was a nodding duck fest!
So my wife called from unloading the car yesterday and called: what are you doing? I replied: Expunging!