Dear Blog: I missed you.
Yes, it’s true. I gave up blogging temporarily while I worked intensively on my book, an exploration of my engagement with Zionism and Israel going back 50 years. Much of the last four or five months has been taken up with editing my original completed manuscript: turning a 207,000-word behemoth into a slim, streamlined, cool-looking 99,000. At the beginning of the process, when someone said ‘It’s like tearing off your own flesh’ I was dismissive. ‘Oh, I’ve been an editor for years and I don’t mind cutting my own writing.’ Well, I eventually made it, but it was bloody painful at times. It reminded me of the conundrum of the flea hopping across a table half-way and then each further hop is half the distance of the one before. How long will it take to get to the other side? It gets closer and closer all the time, tantalisingly so, but will never ever reach its destination. That’s how I felt cutting my ms.
At one point I thought I’d never get there, but I did, and the breakthrough came when I’d reached about 127,000 working on screen, printed out the whole thing and worked on the hard copy. Although it sounds ridiculously mechanical, I started to set myself a target of cutting one-fifth from each page, on average, but the discipline worked–together with the fact that having a better visual sense of its shape seemed to open up more possibilities of what could be omitted.
I finally submitted the completed ms to my publishers, Pluto Press, last week and publication is planned for summer/autumn. There will still be more work to do, but the ship has been launched, as it were, with just the full fitting out to complete before the passengers can see inside. I won’t reveal the title here until Pluto’s July-December catalogue appears.
So, while I’m not exactly at a loose end, I plan to re-enter the blogging pit in a gradual fashion over the coming weeks. I’ve often wanted to enter the fray in the past months, but knew that I had to stay focused on the book. I plan to comment on matters both small and large, from the exaggeration of the level of antisemitism in Scotland to the Asian-style authoritarianism that has taken hold in Israel; from those terribly aggressive secularists marginalising religion in the UK to the ideological underpinnings of the Cameron Tory Party; from the far right and the slippage of its sanitising makeover to the further decline of the idea and dream of Europe.
But I also intend to explore other ways of expressing my views and, as you’ll understand, using whatever outlets I can to publicise my book. And I’m also hoping to revamp the look of my blog and make it more connected to the wider world of comment and information-providing.
And then there’s just a small matter of the next book . . .