Archive for May, 2009

The two-day working week

It’s Friday. I’ve spent this week coding screens and line-editing my revised manuscript. Hopping from one to the other breaks the monotony of both. But come Friday afternoon … I run out of steam … and don’t really want to do either. I just get that “break out and do something completely different” weekend vibe.

Is the working week just long enough so that it runs out when we get to that point? Or are we just accustomed to running out of steam at the end of a working week, no matter how long it is? I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m self-employed and can determine my own working hours, but in fact, for most workers the working week is now actually 6 days long, and getting longer every year. At the start of the industrial revolution, before labour laws, 7 day working was not uncommon. So maybe we have it good, you might think. Well, consider homo erectus.

On the radio this week, I heard an author discussing his book, and found it interesting to hear that in our hunter-gather days, the working week was only two days long. Spend two days making arrows, hunting some beasts, and you have enough to feed & clothe you and family for another five days. All that free time started humanity’s artistic journey, scratching out cave paintings. We sometimes look back in embarrassment at our unenlightened cavemen ancestors. But today, Friday, I look back at his two day week and think … boy, did he have it sussed … where the hell did we go wrong in the meantime?

Have a good weekend y’all!

1 comment May 22nd, 2009

Metaphor of the week

You may have noticed that I like a nice metaphor. Here comes this week’s!

I’ve been editing for the past couple of weeks. It’s true what they say – it’s easier to edit with a little bit of distance between author and novel. I’ve left it aside for a few months and it makes me more willing to make the hard decisions to cut out the unnecessary fat that gets in the way of a story. It seems to be following the 10% reduction rule of its own accord. It becomes strangely liberating in a way, once I get used to letting go of those precious phrases that don’t really belong.

However …

There is a danger. I’m intensely careful of stripping the prose back too much, to some mundane, bland, anonymous thriller style that could be the output of any ghost writer. That brings me to my metaphor. Ask any chef – a little fat gives the dish more flavor in the cooking.

Don’t trim it back too much.

Add comment May 9th, 2009


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