Sunday, February 18, 2007

Noel McLachlan and Waiting for the Revolution

I was sorry to discover last week that Noel McLachlan had died. Editing his Waiting for the Revolution was my first real adult trade freelance editorial job (courtesy of Barbie Burton). My experience of Noel was that he was charming, wilful, subversive and highly amusing. I learnt a lot. He'd exceeded his original brief from Penguin by some 30,000 words and he'd been ordered to cut. So he didn't cut anything substantive he eliminated unnecessary words such as thats and thes. When I started reading it I was shocked and appalled. Then I got into the rhythm of Noel's language, and after awhile I could hear his distinctive voice in my ear when I was reading the script. When it went back to Penguin (not to Barbie), the editor was shocked and appalled, sent me a letter telling me off, and some of the missing words were 'restored' but not enough to ruin the rhythm of the writing and Noel escaped any substantive cuts.

The book also left me with a perspective on Australian history that I still retain.

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