Printing is imminent - Green's Cafe again
Over the weekend I was proof-reading the novel in the PDF format type-set by Frank of StreetBooks. I am ashamed to say that having printed it out I found a great many changes I wanted to make - not Frank's errors but my own.
Some were factual changes which, partly as a result of this blog, I needed to make. Linda Hart, who knows everything about Robert Frost, robustly put me right on several matters for which I was very grateful. Others were minor word changes and a few deletions.
Here is some advice to any writer - PRINT IT OUT, PRINT IT OUT, PRINT IT OUT. It's impossible to read as a reader any other way. And out of consideration to your publisher don't make dozens of last minute changes which were well within your power to make earlier!
Frank was delayed for our meeting so I had plenty of time to sit and dread his reaction to my long list of amendments, but I needn't have worried - he was very philosophical about it.
What was worrying was my difficulty in obtaining permission to publish extracts from Robert Frost's letters to Edward and to Helen. It was unclear to me who could give consent - publisher, Holt, as the internet suggests, or an individual who is the executor of the Robert Frost estate, or both. Once I was in touch with the Executor, Peter Gilbert, he was very prompt, friendly and helpful and within 24 hours gave me the permission 'gratis.'
This printing is pre-publication, in order to have some review copies, so there is time before February 7th for the final edition.
Thomas's second proper poem and so absolutely his own, much more than the Frosty first, Up in the Wind. He has quite changed my attitude to mud and to 'bad' weather as he notices what other's miss.
November's earth is dirty,
Those thirty days, from first to last;
And the prettiest things on ground are the paths
With morning and evening hobnails dinted,
With foot and wing-tip overprinted
Or separately charactered,
Of little beast and little bird.
The fields are mashed by sheep, the roads
Make the worst going, the best the woods
Where dead leaves upward and downward scatter.
Few care for the mixture of earth and water,
Twig, leaf, flint, thorn,
Straw, feather, all that men scorn,
Pounded up and sodden by flood,
Condemned as mud.
But of all the months when earth is greener
Not one has clean skies that are cleaner.
Clean and clear and sweet and cold,
They shine above the earth so old,
While the after-tempest cloud
Sails over in silence though winds are loud,
Till the full moon in the east
Looks at the planet in the west
And earth is silent as it is black,
Yet not unhappy for its lack.
Up from the dirty earth men stare:
One imagines a refuge there
Above the mud, in the pure bright
Of the cloudless heavenly light:
Another loves earth and November more dearly
Because without them, he sees clearly,
The sky would be nothing more to his eye
Than he, in any case, is to the sky;
He loves even the mud whose dyes
Renounce all brightness to the skies.
The Nick Dear play at Almeida - Richard Eyre and Nick Dear were on Front Row this evening - The play sounds very interesting. Dear said he wrote it to explore whether Thomas had a death-wish, suicide by war. If he did he put up plenty of smokescreen, saying often that he wanted to survive and that he could almost enjoy the war if he knew how long it would last and whether he'd survive.
I have a feeling that some Frost fans may be troubled by some aspects.