When reality is too far-fetched. Recently, I’d given a short speech to a Ukranian cosmonaut in my Left Luggage sci fi novel. Two professional editors have reacted badly to it because it is unbelievable to them. Vladimir is wistfully looking out of a porthole in the International Space Station from which one of his colleages is doing an EVA when Vlad wanted to be out there instead. he says to an American astronaut that he gets so much of a kick from the deep infinity of space. And how there is no where the ‘right way up’. The editors virtually puke and comment that astronauts wouldn’t say this. But I’ve listened to real astronauts wax lyrical about their space walk experiences and even the most cold-hearted detached NASA-trained to be motorons people are touched by being out there. In particular the Russians draw on their rich ancestral culture and exotic language. When back into English it is purple prose and flowery but heartfelt. So do I write what I feel that astronaut would really be feeling? Or go with the editors and tone it right down? Other readers of the chapter tell me to convey my instincts, but then I might end up with a heartfelt script that will never get pubilshed. Those editors are not attempting to upset me, but to help me.
I liken it to landscape painting. I remember painting a terrific sunset scene as seen from Cat Bells in the UK Lake District. I took a photograph to assist the final touches on getting home. When it was complete it looked like the top of a chocolate box or a garish birthday card. It was realistic but looked unreal. Many skyscapes are like that; especially cloud shapes. I saw a cumulus cloud looking like a white elephant complete with trunk and tusks the other day. Would you buy that painting? No.
Hard stuff this self editing.