I know what you’re thinking: What a narcissistic, pretentious, self-promoting tool, reviewing his own book. Well, yes and no. Mainly no, I hope. Think about it – how many authors actually submit their own work to a serious, public self-review (not that this one is serious by any stretch of the imagination)? I can’t think of any. Sure it’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but then isn’t this whole gear review blog basically a sham? Let’s gloss over that bit.
The main three iterations of TiNaH: good, better, best!
I’ve recently completely rewritten this book, from introduction to acknowledgments, header to footer, the full enchilada. Why? Not because I wasn’t happy with the original – I loved the original. I wrote it for me, and me was delighted. I intend to read it in my twilight years, when my memory is a vague shadow that lurks just out of my peripheral vision and skitters away like a young faun when I turn and try to capture what is contained therein. I’ll read about the things I did in Africa and let out mighty guffaws, spilling my tea and losing my dentures down the side of the sofa. I can’t wait.
Why, then? Well, I was well aware early on that it was not commercially viable as apparently most people don’t care about the minute details of every day of that trip, every price I paid, every argument I had, every tedious bus journey and meal. I was a trifle miffed at the number of friends who purchased the book in good faith, only to read a couple of chapters then move onto something else, mumbling vaguely about ‘going back to it later’, but I don’t blame them at all.
Apparently most readers just want a sketchy outline of the happenings and loads of juicy gossip about who I am, who Gerda is, and how we interact. If I’d thought anyone was interested in little old me I’d have thought more about it, but I am a humble beast. I have also realised that on paper, as in real life, people love Gerda (as well they should); she should have been a much more prominent presence, bursting from the pages with vim and vigour.
These errors I have remedied to the best of my ability: I have crowbarred in oodles more of the mighty G; I have lain bare our curious backstories; I have rid the tome of it’s silly mini-histories and static emails, devices which I thought would pleasingly break up the flow of text but which I have since been advised to lose; and most of all I have cut, sliced, diced and chopped words. Words, words, words, scooped out and massacred wholesale, my precious babies left to die, alone, unloved, in ‘previous versions of this document’. Words that I invented, passages that I agonised over, paragraphs that essential to the integrity of the piece – all gone, so that you, dear reader, need not trawl through the pages, sighing while you search for some semblance of a story (much like this review, I suspect). I deleted fully 25% of the words, amazingly, and although I did write some new ones the resultant volume is noticeably slimmer and in more robust health.
It’s also got a great new cover! The old one was drab, and although the sentiment was good (Nice Hotel – Good Price – Get Inside) it didn’t really leap off the shelf. For this edition I submitted the cover design in various stages to the forum of Facebook and received excellent feedback from my friends, some of whom hadn’t contacted me in years, and vice-versa. Thank you all if you were involved. I also got a more-than-competent friend to design the cover text, a much better option than struggling to do it myself in blocky Times New Roman.
All of these things have, I hope, combined to create a vastly superior book. I still hold no hope of getting it published or making any money from it, oh my goodness me no, but I am confident that more people will now be able to enjoy it, or the same people who tried before may enjoy it more. I’ve written it for them. As for me – when I’m old, drooling and struggling to remember what I had for lunch tomorrow, I’ll be reading the original version, warts and all. “On the cusp of faecal emancipation” – what a great line!