‘I don’t believe he’s done this. It was all going so well… and then this.’ I hyperventilate, drop the page I was just reading and jump up.
‘What? Who?’ Startled, the Nymph lifts her head.
I gesture that I wish to be left alone. I’m too agitated to speak at the moment. I head into the kitchen and return with a camomile tea.
‘Have you finished reading through it?’ I point with a despairing glance to the most recent manuscript of The Cut that Anthony sent us this morning.
‘Yes. And … Wow! Wow! Wow!’ Peirene’s face breaks into an expression of utter bliss. ‘Isn’t he just wonderful!’
‘Wonderful?’ I exclaim impatiently. ‘Surely you can’t mean the draft that has just arrived!’
Peirene doesn’t seem to have heard me. Her eyes shine brightly. ‘What progress from the last version. The two main characters, Cairo and Grace are now interacting, being drawn towards each other, driving the plot forward. Anthony has got under their skins. We are on the homestretch with The Cut. Little can go wrong now. In the next version the narrative wheels are going to click into gear, I can feel it.’
The Nymph and I clearly have read different manuscripts.
‘Have you got to the scene where Grace suddenly leans across the table and kisses Cairo on the head?,’ I enquire. ‘No preparation. Just out of the blue. I’m sorry it simply doesn’t work.’
Before I can continue Peirene interrupts me: ‘And have you read to the end of that page?’
I shake my head. ‘No need.’
She holds the page in front of my face and points to the bottom of it. There Anthony has typed in capital letters THIS SCENE DOESN’T YET WORK. NEEDS MORE DEVELOPMENT.
‘You see. He knows his craft.’ She turns on her heals and walks out of the room. I sink into my chair with a sigh of relief. Peirene is right, Anthony is a good writer and I should stop worrying. The Cut will be another inspiring Peirene Now! book and our readers won’t be disappointed.
Peirene walks back into the office with my training shoes under her arm. ‘Why don’t you go for a run? I think a break will do you good,’ she says in a soft, motherly tone. ‘And don’t worry about Anthony and me, we can have the editorial meeting without you.’ I now notice that she has put on lipstick and her most sparkly earrings.
‘I better stay,’ I smile. ‘If only to make sure that your attention remains on the manuscript.’
By Meike Ziervogel
Image by Jan-Willem Reusink, creative commons.
This blog was originally published as part of Peirene Press‘s series Things Syntactical. The Pain and Passion of a Small Publisher on 5 February 2017.