Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The RLS Debate: Genius or Jakie?

The weather cannot decide what it wants. It's possible to have rain, sun, gales and hailstones all in the one day at the moment. Today it is sunny, but everyone takes an array of clothing wherever they go because by lunchtime it could be pelting down. Such is the Scottish weather, and people wonder why we moan about it.

I gave What A Waste a read through and spotted several minor errors, gave it a polish and edited a few more sentences. I'll let it settle and finish it off this evening for good.

I also started work on the third of my series of Great Scottish Authors - Arthur Conan Doyle. 5000 words I had down after research, which has to get down to around 600-700! This will be tough and a real test of my editing skills if I'm to keep his life making sense. After a run through over lunch I got it down to 3200.

I received some feedback on my first article of the Great Scottish Authors series about Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS). Dave Graham of Edinburgh wrote to me to say;

"I read your submission about RLS today......have you deliberately romanticised the man? You seem to have missed out the reason for his later ill health....drink and drugs (ergotine). When he was studying Law he missed half of his classes as he was hooked on all sorts. Without the altered state of mind he'd have never written his novels."

What Dave says is partly correct; RLS's health was worsened by his abuse of drink and drugs, in fact it was some of these substances that contributed to him developing the idea of Jekyll & Hyde through an interest in chemical imbalances. I did hint at it in the article when I said he was not attending seminars at University and instead spending his time with hookers and low-life's in the dens of the Old Town.

However, RLS wrote a great many of his novels well before he was "hooked" on anything. He suffered from Tuberculosis from a very early age and this was one of the main reasons he was ill and fled the country for more agreeable climates. To say he wold not have wrote anything because of drink and drugs abuse is not entirely true. His severely haemorrhaging lungs were not given much of a chance to to improve, that's for sure.

Also, the original RLS article from which this KIC article was derived, covers all of these things in more details due to its greater word count. The original article, currently on submission- stands at around 2500 words. For KIC, the editor ask that I get it down to around 400. You can see my dilemma - what to leave in and what to take out. It is never easy to narrow a man's entire life into a couple of hundred words. All I hope is that I managed to convey the man's life and spirit in as representative a way as possible.

That all said, it is great to get feedback on these articles, and with plenty more authors still to come in the series, I hope they can provoke more debate about the quality, and the misgivings, of Scotland's Greatest Authors.

I gave What A Waste a final read through in the evening and picked up one minor typo so I think it's now ready to hit the submission circuit. I'll start digging out contacts tomorrow.

Got a lot to do tomorrow before I fire off to Majorca for Fat Bates' Stag Weekend. Tomorow is, afrer all, the GDR windup for August.
Colin 10:26 am


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