How to choose a title:
Suggestions wing their way through the ether
It’s all a conspiracy
I’ve finally finished both the manuscripts the publisher sent back to me. Leaving aside the problem with the Eliezer’s Journey manuscript, namely that it was an old version and the last chapter was missing, I’m still a little confused.
You see, I thought that I was being sent manuscripts that had been proof-read. True Solstice did not say that they were sending me ‘the galleys’ which would imply that what I got was what was going to be published unless I spotted anything or, heaven forbid, wanted to change anything but I was under the impression that both had been through some sort of checking process. I was mistaken,obviously so in the case of the Eliezer book and less obviously in the case of the LeMesurier book.
Eliezer’s Journey, as it stands unedited by Solstice, contains approximately one hundred and forty-eight thousand words. I made just over two thousand corrections and most of those were removing unwanted commas. A common fault, or so I’m led to believe. I’m also led to believe that you don’t put a comma before the words ‘and’ or ‘but’. Interesting then that not only was that the major problem but in other books I’ve read recently, put out by major publishing houses,that rule is frequently broken and in general commas abound. Never mind, both my books are the better for going on a severe ‘comma diet’ but like ‘the Atkins Diet’ there are side effects. Headaches, bad temper, the desire to hurl the laptop out of the nearest porthole and bad breath. OK, I made that last one up, at least in the case of the ‘comma diet’.
Somewhat understandably relations between myself and Solstice were a little frosty for a day or so but the thaw has set in. They were annoyed at somehow getting an incomplete manuscript and I was wondering if I was going to be doing all the proof-reading, in which case proof-reading is not a free service. I’ve come to the conclusion that it was all a case of not quite clear communication leading to a misunderstanding. Water under the bridge.
How to choose a title:
Bearing in mind that the best titles are short and snappy, ‘Eliezer’s Journey‘ hopefully being an example then ‘Doctor Augustus Pierre LeMesurier and Jack the Ripper‘ was always going to be a problem. Not only because it was decidedly not short but the cover artist had problems trying to fit it, my name and any form of artwork onto the cover. I felt and to a certain extent still feel that having the words ‘Jack the Ripper’ on a front cover are a definite ‘pull’ but if the ideal title is no more than three words then we still have a problem.
The truth be told, Jack only appears in about thirty to thirty-five percent of the book so maybe some readers would feel cheated or worse, mislead and that would never do. After a bit of ‘to-ing and fro-ing’ of emails, the cover artist’s suggestion is ‘Dr LeMesurier mysteries‘ and my current suggestion is ‘The mysterious Dr LeMesurier’. To be perfectly honest I prefer mine, the other sounds like a series title and having by necessity re-read the book I have a couple of ideas for a follow-on book. That will depend on whether the first book actually sells of course but in the meantime both manuscripts are back with Solstice.
I’ve had an interesting insight into the problem. On one of the boats here in Denga Bay the husband is Ukrainian and his good lady is Russian. Alex has, as I understand it, lived in Russia for many years, was in the Soviet navy and generally thinks that Putin has the right idea about most things. Notwithstanding that, he is from the Ukraine and proud of it. He is also a very worried man. Worried about the future of his country and worried about his daughter who lives in the Crimea. As he tells it, the Crimea is a bit apart from the rest of the Ukraine and there is unlikely to be any trouble there but really who can be sure? I feel for him.
The insight though is this. What’s going on has obviously been stirred up by the EU. Foreign politicians come and stir-up the protestors and what legally-elected government would stand for that? The EU and most probably America are funding the protests for their own reasons and whilst there are some people who would rather go the EU route the majority want closer ties with Russia. How is occupying a government building democracy and how is finding the protests peace-loving and democratic? It is apparently a fact that the EU told the Ukraine they would never join the EU and this was the reason that the democratically elected government turned towards Russia. That and the fact there are close ethnic and cultural ties between the Ukraine and Russia. According to Alex, this is all a Western conspiracy. It’s also unfortunately mainly rubbish but it highlights the way that both Russians and many Ukrainians understand the way that governments work and shows a complete lack of understanding of democracy.
Firstly, it is quite true that at the start of the November negotiations between the EU and the Ukraine, the latter wanted linkage between the customs treaty and eventually joining the EU.This was not forthcoming and for two reasons.
1) The negotiations were about the Ukraine adopting a series of laws which were aimed at bringing it in-line with the EU. These included such quaint notions as human rights, a notion that ex- Soviet bloc countries have a problem grasping. Democracy is not just about having free and fair open elections, it is a state of mind and encompasses such things as the right to protest and the right to not to have the police beat the crap out of you if you do. I grant you it doesn’t include the right to occupy government buildings but it does include the right to not be shot for doing so.
2) The agreement for Ukraine to join the EU at a later date was never on the table. The EU doesn’t work like that. First comes internal economic and political reforms, then comes an agreement that the country is eligible to apple for membership then comes the application.
That the EU has just finished a period of fairly rapid expansion, has just about weathered a major economic crisis and is now wary of taking on more problems right now apparently are not factors to be taken into account. It all comes down to money and money is precisely what Putin was offering so that is the way to go. Western Ukraine is a poorer area and historically looks to the West, Eastern Ukraine is and always was the economic power house. They have closer ties with Russia and by golly Russia wants closer ties with them.
Take a look at the map and imagine you are Vladimir Putin. The bloody EU is surrounding you, pinching bits of your former empire. The Americans keep talking about putting a missile shield in Europe to guard against Iran and/or any other rogue state that might acquire nuclear weapons but you know damn well it’s aimed squarely at containing any perceived future threat from Russia so you’ve deployed missiles into areas outside of Russia as a bargaining chip. A handy place to put some of them is Ukraine which would not be possible if Ukraine was either part of the EU or moving towards it, so what to do? You put your hand in your pocket and offer what can only be described as an economically insane deal, insane from the Russian economic perspective that is. Politically it makes a lot of sense, to Putin. Economically it makes a lot of short-term sense to some Ukrainians but they either can’t see or don’t care that there are unmentioned strings attached.
Alex tells me that Russia can afford it. I beg to differ slightly. It probably can’t afford not to but they will never get their money back. Putin is cleaning up Russia and eventually it will be truly democratic with a proper market economy and laws to govern business activity. Probably. It is a few years off though. Alex and many like him were horrified by what happened when Communism collapsed. The economic chaos, the total break-down of law and order, the sheer uncertainty of daily life. Understandably nobody wants that sort of thing to happen again. It was like the Wild West and everybody was praying for the sheriff to ride into town. Soon.
Alex tells me about political problems in the EU. People don’t like being told what to do by Brussels and how is it democracy if a government that nobody has voted for imposes rules on elected national governments? I tell him that democracy isn’t perfect and probably never will be. The difference is that any democratic government can be and is, held to account. Not only by the electorate at regular intervals but all the time by a democratically elected opposition. This is a problem that the EU enthusiasts are going to have to tackle if they want greater political union. It’s called ‘accountability’ and it lays at the heart of democracy. Ask Tony Blair. By rights he should of been getting out of prison about now but as I said, democracy isn’t perfect.
Alex very worriedly told me yesterday that Russia was going to send troops into the Ukraine to protect Russian citizens and ethnic Russians living there. That is what some of the news sites that he reads are saying. It probably isn’t true but the idea that this would constitute a Russian invasion of an independent country simply wouldn’t occur to him. He likened it to British troops in Northern Ireland and I failed to get the idea across that it was a completely different situation. Yes he understood that the majority of people in Northern Ireland wanted to remain part of the UK but couldn’t see that that was the essential difference. NI was and is part of the UK because that is what the majority of people there want. So what about Scotland he asked. If they vote to stay in the Union there is a risk that those who want independence will pick up a gun. The notion that a minority could and would accept a majority decision as expressed in a referendum was and is a totally alien concept to him and others who were born and brought-up under the Soviet system. ‘My country has been independent and democratic for twenty years now and things have got worse.’ That’s because despite being an apparent economic power-house the economy was that of the Soviet system. Industries were propped up. Now, it is generally recognised within the EU that the Ukraine has fantastic economic potential but for it to be realised there have to be structural reforms. Economic and political. Elections don’t automatically mean a country will become more prosperous. Democracy will lead to it though and there’s more to democracy than just elections.
Alex is a real person. A charming man and good company but he just doesn’t ‘get’ democracy.
I wish I could speak Russian.