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When a book is just too long...



I'm all for getting value for money from audiobooks, which is why I gave in and subscribed to audible for the duration of this walking exercise, but sometimes a book is longer than it needs to be!


On the MA, I spent a large part of my editing time cutting out unnecessary words and trimming stories down to be within the word limit for each assignment. As in the past I have always been scrabbling around for words to try and increase the length of a novel, it's been quite a novelty to find myself with too many words. However, it has given me a much greater appreciation of the need for brevity and made me much more aware when authors don't follow those same 'rules'. In this case, I may scream if I hear the words 'my very own darling' one more time!


While I've been walking 'through Devon' I've been listening to Lorna Doone and once I'd got my head around Blackmore's interpretation of the Devon accent and dialect, I've been quite enjoying it. However, something I've begun to realise is that not very much actually happens (or at least it hasn't so far). I spotted it right at the beginning when after several chapters we had essentially only learnt about John Ridd's schooldays, but the further into the book I get, the more noticeable it becomes and to be quite honest, it's starting to irritate me. No matter how much I listen to it, I never seem to get much further into the story. Were I to summarise the events so far, it wouldn't be a particularly long list and yet somehow it's taken me hours (and many many miles) to hear about them. Whilst the far side of Devon is not yet in view, I know it's not far over the horizon and so I've been trying to speed up the book by listening to it outside of walking times, but there are 75 chapters and I'm only on Chapter 50...


The physical book itself isn't even that long - 715 pages - and it's not as though I'm afraid of long books. It's just that this one is SO slow I feel like I'm dragging the plot along behind me as I walk. I don't think it helps that I've been listening to it straight after Jamaica Inn, which was fast paced and exciting, but I'm struggling to care enough about the characters to bother about their eventual fates. The onset of darker mornings and wetter weather have seriously dented my motivation to walk at the moment anyway and the book isn't helping - at least if I wanted to know what happens next I'd be keen to get out and listen to it, but it's difficult to be motivated when you know the next plot worthy point is probably three days walking away! Although it goes against everything I normally believe, I am wondering if perhaps this might be one instance where the TV programme is better than the source material!


I've chosen my next book, which is a little bit shorter and I'm hoping that will be a little bit pacier.


If all else fails, in two weeks I shall be walking round the grounds of Northmoor House on my writing retreat and in three weeks I shall be treading the paths of Cornwall and actually seeing some of the places I've been sent postcards from. That at least will motivate me to get the mileage in!

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