But there's a ray of light at the end of every tunnel: I'm only days away from completing the draft of the book I'm currently working on. It's quite a complex story, with two strands running parallel to each other like its predecessor Niedermayer & Hart (reviews). I'm excited for two reasons: it's always a relief to reach the end of a long piece of work, and secondly, because the book is now in such an advanced state that I'm quietly confident I have something which will satisfy the many fans of the earlier work. If you haven't read Niedermayer & Hart, now's your chance, and if you have read it and it wasn't to your taste (takes all sorts to make a reading world!) I hope I'm speaking for most writers when I say please don't take it too personally! Sometimes when I look at reviews on Amazon I'm truly aghast at some of the comments made on one star ratings relating to a product, giving reasons such as: because it arrived later than guaranteed, or the packaging was damaged, or because you hadn't realised you had a region 2 DVD Player and you bought a region 1 DVD. Although, especially to the independent author, the star rating system is a vital tool for marketing books, I guess the best writers can hope for is that most potential readers will, as I do, take the majority's view as the best guide, for everything from books to hotels to coffee grinders!
The one star reviewer can take his/her axe to anything it seems. Even the beautifully written, wonderfully engaging Harp in the South trilogy by Ruth Park isn't immune. I discussed buddy reading the first book she wrote in the series in my previous blog, which turned out to be the second part in the final story order. I personally chose to read the books as they were written, and I'm glad I did, simply because Park, I think, became more confident as a writer over the thirty years between Poor Man's Orange and Missus (first chronologically but written last). This is a lovely series of books, deeply insightful into the lives of the Irish/Australian Catholics who inhabit their pages without ever becoming either too romancified (could that possibly be a word? Should be if not!) or doomed never to get a break and to suffer pain and torment for all eternity like the characters in a Cormac McCarthy novel. If you enjoy good writing and well-drawn characters you really care about that are never stereotypical, I strongly recommend this series. My buddy reading comrades all agreed.
And finally to some thoughts on Bexhill-on-Sea and fence-posts: the wife and I paid an Easter Sunday visit to my mother-in-law in her nursing-home last weekend. She's ninety-two, and sometimes, as on this visit, she has a sleepy day. I think it's just that the battery gets run down, and when it does it takes a long time to charge up. Anyway, we've learned to accept things as they are and to be grateful that she's well and happy, and when she is fully alert she can still read half a dozen books in a week and make you wish you'd paid more attention to the dictionary when you play her at Scrabble. We had a lovely bracing walk along the seafront and had a nice coffee at Reillys cafe with my brother-in-law. 'Storm Katie' continued overnight and we woke to find two fence-panels down in the morning - let's hope our climbing rose and clematis will recover!