Just back from handing over the manuscript of time to sing beofre the dark to Bruce Bascand and his sister Robyn.
I’ve written and erased dozens of paragraphs that follow on from that simple statement. Stupid. Let’s just go with the observation that I didn’t handle it as well as I would have liked, and I’m really grateful for the existance of large sunglasses.
It does feel strange to have that part finished. The doing of it wasn’t the hard bit – once I had the process underway, it flew by. It was a true joy. But getting myself to that point was really a lot harder than it should have been. And handing it over today was a real wrench. But I think it really is going to be good. Unfortunately her computer files have vanished irretrievably, so it has to be copy-typed by someone, and then I’ll give it a final going-over to make sure the poems are in the right order and that there are none that should come out. There are two that I’m not entirely certain about – good poems, but maybe not quite as strong as the others. But … I suspect I’m largely quadruple-guessing myself. They both fit really well in the context of the whole thing. And they aren’t weak poems – those that were didn’t even make the first cut. It’s really just a matter of seeing how many pages it all comes out to, what it looks like laid out properly, and then making those final decisions.
The hope is to launch it next year on her birthday – February 22nd. It’s only three months away, which isn’t a huge amount of time. We’ll see. Bruce and Robyn and I discussed possibilities for the cover – I have this vague memory of a Gustave Dore etching for one of the fairy tale collections he did, with a thrush on a strand of briar rose, which would be perfect. Or something like a detail from a medieval painting – definitely a bird, and probably not a photo. But I’m not particularly good at things of a visual artistic nature, so I’ll take a slightly more back-seat position on that aspect.
Now I just have to write a bio for her, the blurb, and some kind of afterword, putting it all in context. One more thing to wrestle with myself about.
It does feel a bit like the beginnings of saying goodbye. I don’t know how I feel about that yet.
2 Replies to “A(nother) Difficult Day”
Thank you for doing this work though it has been difficult on some levels. You have done a noble thing. I really look forward to reading the book.
Thank you, although I don’t think there’s anything noble about it – from a purely rational point of view, I knew Helen’s work better than anyone else, and also knew what she would and wouldn’t have done by way of editing. If the job had gone to anyone else, I would have been breathing down their neck the whole time …