The best beginning of them all—Little Fox

by bjmuirhead

I have to say that the best beginning of them all is ending something you have been working on for a long time.

Just last week I finished a short novel (37800 words) that I have been working on for about 2 years. I have revised the damn thing and revised and revised and tried to take into account the opinions of all my test readers (god bless friends and other masochists). Of course, I also am a masochist and can’t help tweaking just a bit more, cutting a word here , adding a comma there.

Perhaps the biggest bug bear I have had is punctuation. Especially the em dash…. I wonder if I have overused it. It is a fantastic tool, admitting of many ways of cutting a sentence into meaningful parts which continue to work as a whole, and I love the way it can be used instead of parentheses, keeping the parenthetic comment on an equal footing with the rest of the sentence, where that is the desired effect.

I also have used and love the semi colon a lot in this piece; but again I wonder if I have over-used it. So useful, so flexible, but so open to abuse.

Why do I wonder and bother about this? The only possible answer is that punctuation makes the work readable and enhances whatever it is that is being said. Of course, bad punctuation slows reading and destroys meaning very quickly.

In any event, the piece is finished, and I have kept my title Little Fox against the wishes of some. And I will do my best to avoid revising yet again. (I have 10 hard copies, each of which is scratched over and revised to the very death)

No the art is to get it published, which in many ways is the real beginning of any work, the pint at which you face the fact that this work over which you have labored may not be what anyone wants to publish. Two publishers have already told me this much, one with that darling form letter they all seem to have managed to turn into the deadliest and most boring insult, without meaning to. (This was an earlier version, three revisions ago. Perhaps I should try them again?) The other, bless her, was face to face at a writers festival, and we had a good talk about it. Of course, we had not met to talk about publication, the editor merely said it was not appropriate for her company, and that they would not publish it. She was, however, very complimentary about the actual writing, and very helpful in ways she may not  realise.)

None the less, onward to the beginning that counts more than any other. Well, that’s the way it feels now.

As for punctuation: forgive me for not revising this and presenting my best writing, but a blog is, after all, just a way of letting off steam after a day or week or year of doing nothing but working hard.

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