First of all, this is only a ‘perfect’ novel from my own point of view, and I don’t expect anyone else to find it perfect – as long as it turns out to be more or less readable that’s enough. I just wish all my novels were as easy and enjoyable to write as this one has been. I’m not entirely sure what caused this to happen. Was it the increasing sense of calm serenity I’ve experienced as lock-down has gone on, or did I just need to try a different approach to writing after having created two editing nightmares during March and April?
In stark contrast to the process of writing both my last two novels, ‘The Spy who Came out of the Bushes’ and ‘The Heir to Nothing’, this time I wrote all the chapters in order, the major plot points were there from the start and the characters didn’t go off on too many unexpected adventures of their own. Not only that, but on reviewing and editing this one, I found I hadn’t given any of the characters more than one name – there was a house that briefly acquired a slightly different version of its name, but that only lasted for a page and was easy enough to correct. Even the horse kept the same name throughout, although I must confess there was some ambivalence about his colouring at one point. If any reader finds a stray typo, I apologise profusely, but I’ve come across less than half a dozen during my whole editing process.
Of course now I feel as if I should try hard to create similar conditions for writing when I reach ‘Pitkirtly XXI’, and get as much enjoyment from it as I have done from ‘The Unwilling Heir’. You can never guarantee calm serenity, in my experience at least, but I suppose being able to lurk at home looking out at the garden in all weathers instead of going out at 7.45 a.m. to face the rush-hour traffic into Edinburgh and then working all day in an office which is more or less below ground level and never gets the sun, has been a help. There was also a tiny bit more planning than usual involved in this latest novel, although that is quite ironic as I didn’t actually plan to write it at all and it didn’t figure in my 2020 so-called writing plan, which has now to all intents and purposes been abandoned as a lost cause.
‘The Unwilling Heir’ is now almost complete and might even be published within the next two weeks or so.