Too Much Detail
How does one accurately, honestly and engagingly describe what life is like within the adult social care system? That is the conundrum I’ve been wrestling with the past couple of days. How can one narrate the daily grind of the system without the reader switching off in boredom?
I got some feedback from the publishing company who approached me, expressing their interest in my new book. They have decided not to offer me a deal and one of the reasons is “the level of detail currently written”. It’s a fair point. Obviously, when you write a book you want people to read it and you don’t want the reader to discard the book 20 pages in because the content is such a slog. The trick is (and I haven’t discovered the way of executing the trick yet) to present the slog of your life in a way that doesn’t become a slog to read.
Having been turned down by the publishing house, it is back to Plan A of self publishing and yesterday I was setting up the basic details (book size, format, description etc) on the publishing site. The book has been through five drafts so far and I have been surprisingly ruthless with each draft. For draft two, I culled nearly 50 pages from the original manuscript. Each subsequent draft has seen similar shrinkage but when I created the A5 book size PDF yesterday, it still came out as 394 pages! It’s certainly not 394 pages of relentless whining but I have tried to portray the grind in a way that shows how it affects the act of living. Here is a typical, three sentence entry from May 2016:
“Steven is in the living room having a meltdown because he wants me to participate in his commentary of Grease. I’m in the bedroom trying to get on with the monthly personal budget audit which is due on Monday. The poor support worker is on sentry duty in the hall, trying to keep the peace but it’s pointless, because with the noise and my tears, I’m not going to get this job done”.
It’s honest but how many times would a reader want to read a paragraph like that. As Paul Heaton sang, “This is my life and this is how it reads” but what if the repetition of your life stops people reading?
Most of the discourse about social care these days puts the problems squarely at the door of the person requiring services. “Bed blockers” is now a common term to shift attention away from chronic under funding. How often does discussion of assessment and treatment units get shut down by dropping in the phrase, “complex needs”? Justification achieved and conversation ended in just two words. One thing that I hope comes across in everything I write is that Steven isn’t the problem. He isn’t the cause of my grind. Perhaps, rather pompously, I wanted to present an extended piece that makes this point loud and clear. With all the funny bits of our life in as well.
Bollocks! I know who will read the book. I’m not going to convert anybody. I’m sure most people will skip three pages of intense analysis of personalisation to get to a piece about Steven musing over Simon Le fucking Bon. That’s my audience. I can hear them in the Newport Pagnellshire book club: “Yes, a very interesting argument about the problems of the social care Panel but wasn’t that story about Steven’s crush on Sybil Fawlty a hoot”.
Writing my blog as my own personal therapy tool. I think I’m just going to press that key marked “publish”.