Monday, 19 March 2007

In the Oriental Reading Room, Editing

The oh-so-peaceful, non-glamorous Oriental Reading Room of Bodley's library in Oxford.

I could have picked any part of the Bodleian Library in which to edit my ms for Joshua 1. Like the Duke Humfrey's Room, where they filmed Harry Potter (don't ask me what scene, but I direct all the tourists that I meet who ask for Harry Potter hotspots, to this part of the Bod.)

Truthfully though, I can't be bothered schlepping all the way there. It's, like, a bit further away and up some stairs!

So I chose the Oriental Reading Room, in the New Bodleian Library. Like New College, it's not especially new, unless you were born in the eighteenth century.

The Oriental Reading Room turns out to be the perfect place for the total concentration that editing requires. I don't have this trouble writing a first draft - the story sucks me in. Editing, you need to have half your mind in the book and half of it on the editor's suggestions. Which often say, in a much kinder, more helpful and more specific way than this: Write this bit better.

No through-traffic to somewhere more interesting; a long, peaceful room with a window on the Broad. Nobody asking for the latest journals or the latest anything (which is why I won't go back to the haunt of my student days, the Radcliffe Science library; lots of activity there). Just scholars working intently on deciphering their manuscripts, in lovely exotic scripts. The woman who works opposite me seems to be reading something quite spidery and pictographic. Yummy!

You aren't allowed to take bags in, so I have to unpack my laptop and the box with my marked-up manuscript. The Bod Squad (library security) have to check the box, every day. Today I told the guard that I had my future best-selling first novel in there.

He laughed and laughed and laughed.

(Okay, I was going for the laugh...)

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