by guest author Jan Ruth
When someone says `shorts` – what does it mean to you? I always used to prefer those continental jobs the tennis players favour. But are they short trousers, or long shorts? These days, now that I am back to writing, ‘shorts’ mean something totally different.
I’ve always written novel length stories, and I’m thinking now that my penchant for long trousers may have a subjective effect on all of this. I hate my legs in shorts! Does it explain why I find writing short stories so difficult? They are time capsules, brief but intense insights into someone’s world. They still have to carry all the same criteria as a novel, but all the principles have to be honed to within an inch of their lives, or hems, if you want to stay with the theme. The length can vary from ankle-grazing continental style (almost a novella, but not quite?) to old-fashioned budgie smugglers (flash fiction!)
I think mine are the discreet kind, just on the knee or maybe slightly above.
Is all this the first signs of madness? Oh, very probably, and yet I found someone from the same sewing box. John Hudspith is a man with pins in his mouth and a pair of pinking shears in his hand. I send the big roll of material to him and it comes back all cut out into smaller, more pleasing shapes. He can turn any billowing sheet of raw silk into a good-looking pair of shorts. A silk purse from a pig’s ear. This is my editor’s comfort zone without a doubt, he devours the over-worded paragraph with the tenacity of a royal dressmaker. When I’m writing I see him in my mind’s eye with a machete, bearing down on the over-grown narrative until I give in and hit delete.
Let’s be serious for a moment now. I have a small but tortured history of working with editors, agents and publishers and one develops a ‘nose’ for the real thing, like the fragrance of fresh-washed cotton… Oops sorry about that, lapsed into analogy again. When I was introduced to John I don’t mind admitting I was on the verge of despair. I’d had dealings with a big editorial company from London some thirty years ago, so I know how editing and proofreading should work but of course with self-publishing we don’t have the cash advances and the backing, and we have to make all of these decisions for ourselves. I wanted to find someone with those same skills who didn’t charge the London prices. The internet is a very messy sewing box and not everyone puts the needles and pins in a safe place. I struggled. I was let down, and disappointed.
Until I found the excellent John Hudspith and he helped tighten my shorts.
I want to see his shorts. I’m betting they are very, very tight.
Thank you, Jan.
Take a look at Jan’s shorts, they are really clean, tidy, and exceptionally neat.
Find Jan and her novels on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JAN-RUTH-Author/152542251518210?ref=ts&fref=ts