That’s right. The Acknowledgements page/s. Or, as they should be more appropriately named, ‘The Opportunity to Inadvertently Burn Bridges and Destroy Friendships’ page/s.
Just when it feels like you’re done with the hard slog of getting your manuscript finished and the edits done, you’re confronted with the email from your editor that makes even the most confident writer quake with fear and trepidation. “Now, Meaghan. When are you going to be able to get me your acknowledgements pages?”
What if I forget someone? What if I gush too much about one person and not enough about another?
My own mother banished me to the sin-bin and refused to speak to me for weeks after she read my acknowledgements in The Water Diviner. Why? Well, of course she was mentioned and thanked profusely, so that wasn’t it. The problem was that I said too many kind things about her estranged husband. Who also happens to be my father. Who also happened to be dead at the time (still is, last time I checked. Sorry. Gallows humour). And in The Honourable Thief, I gifted my wonderful publisher, Cate Paterson, an additional ‘t’ in her surname. Ouch.
So as I embark on my next journey into publishing, with The Emerald Tablet due to be released in June by Pan Macmillan, let’s see who I manage to insult this time round. Maybe I should have some fun with it. Get some carefully placed barbs in. But given I only have two pages to play with – yes, two… can you believe it? – I’ll be hard-pressed to get everyone in anyway. Might have to go with some abbreviations and my honourees can play guessing games… “So, do you have any idea who the hell ‘S.K.’ is?” Or, I could go with the favourite Oscars catch-all phrase “… and to all the AMAAAAAZING crew who worked on this film, this is for you – you know who you are!” Cut to the gaffer sitting at home in his armchair: “Yeah, I do. But do you, Mr Movie-Star type, who demanded that nobody below DP dare cast his or her eyes in your general direction during the shoot?”
I digress. Acknowledgements. Whatever industry you’re in – a chance to express gratitude, or a supreme opportunity to shoot yourself in the foot?!
4 thoughts on “The most difficult part of writing a novel… No, really.”
Meghan, I well know the snub when forgetting to name a supporter, or the prodding when I name one that others judge unworthy of accolades. I resigned myself to the fact many years ago that you can only please some of the people some of the time. As a public speaker, one is on show live and can be challenged on the spot. Once I accepted this point, I now give my talks without any qualms at all.
The bottom line is though you may get invaluable assistance from some, the end result is your own hard work that made it happen.
You are absolutely right, Don. And how a person responds when they’re accidentally overlooked says so much. When it’s in print to be picked over for evermore … 😬 But there really are so many people I want to acknowledge. Though I can’t even imagine how many you need to recognise in your work!
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