Email on 20th July from the new editor, still trying to move the project back to the phantom plan agreed by the ghost writer and publisher, but not the author!
Edit Your Life!
What the publisher wanted, as outlined in one of their emails, was for me to conclude the book at the birth of my second child, which I had told the ghost writer was the first time I had really felt deep, unconditional love. Apart from ending on an unnecessarily nauseating note, I believed that by not allowing me to share with the reader the subsequent events, it would be utterly misleading.
To protect myself from ridicule at school, I had developed a method of self preservation, which involved shutting down my emotions and disconnecting from other people. This made me cold and capable of behaving in a way which, on the face of it, appeared selfish. The publishers were extremely worried that my inclusion of the truth about my actions and behaviours would lose me sympathy with the reader, who was supposed to view me as the innocent victim.
Being commercially minded, the publisher didn’t understand that I had no particular interest in what their typical reader wanted from a book. But I was not writing for them, I was writing the truth of my life in the belief that other people would relate, perhaps not to all of it, but parts of it, and might be reassured to know that someone else had had similar experiences to them. To my mind, if the reader did not like what they read then they had the free choice to stop reading. I could not see, and still don’t, what is to be gained from manipulating the reader into believing something that just isn’t true. I hated the idea of my book following a formulaic ‘arc’ that deliberately and cynically dictated the reader’s emotional responses.
I continued to fight my corner with Tom, unbeknownst to them, backing me up, or, as it was by then, propping me up. I dreaded every email and conversation. Matters weren’t helped when I discovered that the ghost writer had been given the job of copyeditor! Alarm bells rang when I received text from the copyeditor which contained information that only the ghost writer had. Once again, I felt terribly let down. I couldn’t have expressed my dissatisfaction with the ghost writer more clearly and more often than I had and here he was being drafted back onto the job behind my back. Suddenly it looked as though we hadn’t won the battle, it was just beginning.
I remember a long conversation with the editor on the telephone during which I indirectly challenged her about their using the ghost writer again. As I remember it, she avoided admitting that it was him, although her carefully chosen words confirmed what I suspected. I tried desperately to appeal to her as one human to another, but as kind as she was, I realised her hands were tied. Her loyalty lay with the publisher and she was going to carry out her instructions.
Following that conversation Tom rang her and told her not to underestimate my desperation and determination and that he believed I would withdraw from the competition, even at that late stage. In Tom’s view, she finally gave up when he pointed out that the publishers would soon be done with the book and move on to another, forgetting all about it, whereas we would have to live with it as a document of our lives for the foreseeable future. We would have to explain it to our friends, children and relatives. And therefore it didn’t matter to us about the sales figures, just that it was a true representation of me, my attitudes and the lives of my family. She promised she would have a meeting with the publisher.