Friday, October 12, 2012

The Blurb

Why Green's Cafe, St Giles', Oxford? Other than that it's a nice picture?

Because it is the place to thrash  out disagreements in very early morning meetings. So much for my fantasies of leisurely and expensive lunches with a publisher. Or is that agents? The coffee is good though. I'm sorry this is so long - do skip it if not relevant to you.

I used my 250 word summary as a first  blurb attempt

'The Thomases have a troubled marriage, Helen’s blind adoration clashing with Edward’s melancholy ambivalence. She hopes a family holiday in the country will help, but Edward wants to walk and talk with his friend, Robert Frost.,briefly escaping the grind of his prose writing, the family’s bread and butter. Robert urges Edward to acknowledge the poet latent in himself, and he has other plans for Edward too. Helen and her children make the best of things but the Frost family are hard to understand.
As the summer of 1914 fades both families realise the significance of the war. Decisions must be made.
Edward discovers that he is indeed a poet and can use words more creatively than ever to express his thinking on the natural world and all its inhabitants. He wants nothing but the pleasure of perfecting his poems, but he has a family to feed and a troubling sense of duty towards England. Helen encourages, watches and worries, knowing too that she is not the only woman who loves Edward and that Robert is still making plans for him.
This is a moving story of dilemmas and competing pressures, war and creativity, family life and nation, where the rich serene landscapes of Gloucestershire and Hampshire offer only partial peace
 Frank was not happy. Of course it was far too long, but he said, too,  that a blurb must  'open the book up to a wide readership.'

Frank's version

At the outbreak of the first World War Edward Thomas begins to write poetry.

This poignant novel tells the story of the last years of the poet's life. Narrated from the point of view of both Edward and his loyal but long-suffering wife Helen, it explores the couple's complex relationship and the forces that threaten to destroy it.

Edward's creativity is accompanied by bouts of depression, his doubts encompassing his talent as a poet, the nature of patriotism and even his love for his wife.

Meanwhile Helen struggles to accept his double-edged friendship with the American poet, Robert Frost.

Inspired by Edward and Helen's writings, the novel is set against the beautifully evoked landscapes of Gloucestershire and Hampshire that offer the couple only partial peace.

 I wasn't happy. I am allergic to that historic present tense in the first line even though it is so fashionable - a generational thing no doubt. But mainly I felt that it was too focused on the relationship, not enough on the poetry. - 'I'm trying to write literary fiction here!' Words like 'Mills and Boone' and 'the market' were bandied about. d Boonek it's really quite goodw I think it's actually quite good although he outbreak of the First Wld r, Edward Thomas begins
Enough already! I will put up the  next and the final(?) version tomorrow. My friend Polly Friedhoff, once of Heineman, told me I was lucky to have any say in the blurb, and that it often seemed to her that blurb writers hadn't actually read the book at all!


from 'The Child in the Orchard'  A very late, October 1916 poem, when he had already volunteered for France. The child's a boy, but Myfanwy was that age too. I think it was for her, a legacy of rhymes and legends. And I wonder whether she was putting off going to bed?

'He rolls in the orchard: he is stained with moss
And with earth, the solitary old white horse.
Where is his father and where is his mother
Among all the brown horses? Has he a brother?
I know the swallow, the hawk, and the hern;
But there are two million things for me to learn.
'Who was that lady that rode the white horse
With rings and bells to Banbury Cross?
Was there no other lady in England beside
That a nursery rhyme could take for a ride?
The swift, the swallow, the hawk and the hern.
There are two million things for me to learn.
'Was there a man once who straddled across
The back of the Westbury White Horse
Over there on Salisbury Plain's green wall?
Was he bound for Westbury, or had he a fall?
The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern.
There are two million things for me to learn.
'Out of all the white horses I know three,
At the age of six; and it seems to me
There is so much to learn, for men,
That I dare not go to bed again.
The swift, the swallow, the hawk, and the hern.
There are millions of things for me to learn.


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