Pride comes before a fall: the reluctant editor

Yesterday I was feeling quite buoyant when we went out for a fish and chip tea, revelling in how well things were going, thinking to myself this is such a good way to go about things. It’s turning out to be much easier than I thought it was going to be. Why didn’t I get on with it sooner? Well, they say that pride comes before a fall for a good reason!

When we got back, I thought I’d take a look at the editorial notes from Steve Platt that I came across when I was gathering all of the files together for this project. As stupid as it sounds, I haven’t really taken a look at the titles of the chapters and sections and digested what they are. I’ve typed them while bypassing my brain. I hadn’t noticed, for example, that there are two chapters titled Equal Opportunities, one in the Putting Policies Into Practice section and one in the Progressing The New Initiatives section. That’s because Kath has taken a chronological approach. I thought, since I had just worked on chapter 5, keeping on the Equal Opportunities theme would be interesting for me and there is no reason why things need to be done in the order they are in the book, I can just straight to the second chapter on the subject.

This is what Steve Platt wrote about chapter 15:

“It’s clear that the council’s equal opportunities policies had a very important impact in a number of areas in the city, but until you get to the list of successes at the end of this chapter it’s difficult to identify what they are. I think there is far too much detail here and a more thematic approach (gay and lesbian issues; ethnic minorities; women; people with disabilities) would work better than approaching things by way of the intra-council, intra-party processes. However you approach it, it feels that this chapter needs a lot more work doing on it – and could benefit from substantial cuts.”

Did I mention that Mum was writing the book for 7 years? It seems to me that there are several styles of writing in it. Some of it gets bogged down with who said what and when and where on what committee. It’s like a fog of detail for someone who wasn’t there, probably even for those that were. Other bits flow more like a story, but because she has a tendency to stick to chronology rather than threads of a narrative, it kind of jars as you are reading it and you lose sight of the bits that connect together. Did I mention that she wasn’t really one for listening to good advice and acting on it? She says in the acknowledgements:

“I must also thank Steve Platt and Tony Dale for their editing suggestions for many of the chapters, some of which I rejected because I had done too much research to willingly leave things out, so for any parts which readers find too detailed and boring, the fault is entirely mine.”

Of course things would have been different if she hadn’t died when she did. If she had more time perhaps she would have polished it more? Perhaps she would have been persuaded it needed to be trimmed and altered or maybe she would have ploughed money into it and had a writer reshape it?

So I remember why this is such a difficult task. How do I decide on Kath’s behalf what to leave in and take out? How do I put this into some usable/readable shape? Or do I just put it all out there as is and be damned? Chapter 15 on Equal Opportunities is going to take a lot more effort than chapter 5 did.

I decided this morning that each chapter on here as a web page needs a short summary or abstract at the top. If I can write that it means I have at least understood the gist of what the chapter is all about. I might also add a commentary at the end about how I have edited the chapter and my feelings about it.

For this project to be of interest to me and to keep me going on it, it needs to have some other elements. I was thinking I need a timeline of the events described, what was Mum was doing at the time of these events, what I was doing at the same time and what else was going on in the world at the time – but that’s a big job! It’ll have to be done a bit at a time.  I also need a crib sheet of all of the people involved. Think that will have to be the equivalent of a people glossary. Hopefully I can pull a starting point from the index. And finally, although my intention was to keep this site very text based, it is so visually boring that I think I need to add in some pictures, which means I need to trawl for shareable pictures of Manchester just to keep my spirits up. As a starter on two counts, this is what I was doing in 1986:

Graduation, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 1986. Pete, Karen, Kath

Graduation, University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, June 1986. Pete, Karen, Kath

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