A book is a person between the covers. When you read a book, it is not merely the story of the characters that matters. It is also the person behind the story that you are reading.
If you were to read ‘Macbeth’, for example, you couldn’t emerge from it without being bathed head to toe in all the perfumes of a certain Bill Shakespeare. The Great Bard speaks to you only to tell of Macbeth’s folly in coveting the top job and murdering Duncan for it.
What could possibly make for more ‘social’ communication between two persons? Your reading gives you the first dibs on old Billy.
But having read it, you also sense the crafty, old scribe’s take on it. In his case, as in the case of every writer worth the salt, the reader’s take is what matters.
The fruits of such patience are worth the wait. But to craft a story – that lets the reader create her or his own take on it and still cleverly conceals the writer’s own – requires editorial patience.
Remember what Ezra Pound did to T.S. Eliot’s ‘The Wasteland’? That’s editing at its very best. Pound wrote the ‘Sage Homme’ to portray Eliot’s and his own role in characteristic style:
These are the poems of Eliot
By the Uranian Muse begot;
A Man their Mother was,
A Muse their Sire.
How did the printed Infancies result
From Nuptials thus doubly difficult?
If you must needs enquire
Know diligent Reader
That on each Occasion
Ezra performed the Caesarean Operation.
At a far less lofty level, you and I have our own stories to tell. You and I are neither the Bills nor the Thomases or the Ezras of the world. We’d do much better at crafting our little stories with some help from a friendly, well-meaning young Turk of an editor who thoroughly knows his business.
In my case, procrastination (waiting for help) has paid. Weighted with three novels badly in need of qualified help, I could barely move, much less move forward.
As I look over the samples below, it becomes mandatory that the novels get the attention they deserve, and I can move along.