(names changed to protect the not-so-innocent)
Scene: Author and First Reader are sitting in the lounge. Author has finally consented to evening of Chinese Takeway after being slowly bludgeoned into submission with the words ‘Crispy Chilli Beef’ for pretty much all of April. This is supposed to be a big treat for First Reader. Author is anticipating a restless night of Monosodium Glutamate-fuelled dreams. (LSD, pah! When you’re ready, try the hard stuff mate), followed by the inevitable grogginess of post-MSG hangover.
First Reader: When are you going to e-mail Editor?
Author: When it’s *finished* finished.
First Reader: No, really, when are you going to e-mail Editor?
Author (who has clear stumbled blindly into an Incorrect Answer situation): I dunno. Middle of May. Maybe.
First Reader: How about the week after next?
Author (playing trump card): Ah-HA! Isn’t that the London Book Fair? I’m sure Editor will be far too busy. (smug smug smug)
First Reader (revealing bigger trump card with the bored ease of one who *always* has the ace): No, that’s *next* week.
Author (floundering): Well what’s the point? I’m about to stop writing first chapters for <the next book> and start reworking <the current book>. I’ll send it when it’s done. Editor isn’t expecting it for a while, and is probably quite busy you know.
First Reader: Well what about the ending?
Author: You mean the ending that’s mine and that I like and think is right and rather shocking and unexpected and have no intention of changing? You mean that ending?
First Reader: Yes
First Reader: I’m not sure I like it.
Author (manfully resisting urge to embed laptop into First Reader) …
First Reader: What if Editor doesn’t like it?
First Reader: So why don’t you e-mail Editor?
[Author descends into a lengthy dissertation on the pros and cons of this course of action, pausing to consider all possible responses, likely impacts etc. etc. and only barely manages to avoid using prawn crackers and sweet-and-sour sauce to assemble risk-benefit charts across the table]
Author: Well. I suppose. On balance.
First Reader: What?
First Reader: Oh, I got bored and stopped listening five minutes ago. If you don’t want to, then don’t.
First Reader (waiting until the precise moment that Author consumes last mouthful of MSG-saturated lemon-cardboard-and-string Peking style chicken, then pushing largely untouched plate away): I don’t know what’s happened to this takeaway, but this is crap. I don’t know why you’re eating it. [Scene ends as First Reader exits to deposit takeaway menu in the recycle bin. Author has acquired several strange ticks and twitches.]
Editor, please, for the sake of my sanity and a little peace and quiet, please telegram the following at the earliest opportunity: Good to know you’re making progress STOP Very busy publishing *other* books now STOP Will read when *finished* finished STOP Good luck!
Or something like that.