Truth and Illusion

Sunday, 31 October 2010

It's the last day of October, and I've spent all my free time in the last fortnight either climbing or biking and not blogging. My work time, or at least some of it, is currently being spent editing a memoir by a very old-school climber who I won't name, to spare his blushes. If you're determined to find out who, then I suppose eventually it won't be hard to figure out. Anyway, his story is a great yarn, I'm enjoying the process, and it's something of a coup to get a good story from someone who is generally reticent about his own achievements. In fact, so reticent it's actually frustrating. What should an editor do? With my non-climbing hat on, I want to push the story as hard as it will go, within the boundaries of the writer's voice. On the other hand, the guy is naturally modest and doesn't feel the need to grab the public's attention. As a consequence, I suspect his story will be closer to the truth. Then again, part of me wonders whether a less self-effacing  approach would do more justice to a dramatic story. Which leads me to an interesting thought. Competence, quietly getting on with things, is a great way to get a mountain climbed but doesn't result in a best-selling narrative. The book I'm working on will appeal to climbers, I think, but not to the general public. The conclusion is this: if your book is in the best-seller lists, there's a good chance your expedition went badly.

Posted by Ed Douglas at 4.51 PM