Getting My Edits

This week I’ve had a fantastic conversation with my editor about Lost In France - Life on the Fringes of Professional Rugby. I’m looking forward to receiving her suggestions and feedback to have another go over my manuscript.

Other feedback I’ve had has been helpful, delightful and just a joy to receive. 50 or so people have downloaded the sample with a few having read the whole first draft. Their suggestions and questions have prompted me to write a few snippets to drop into the narrative when I get the edited version back.

This has been the best thing I’ve done since retiring from rugby and I’m so pleased that I pushed myself to commit to it as a project, that I had the discipline to actually do the work and that it’s been well received.

One of my oldest friends read it and then we sat down to talk about it. I was somewhat nervous as he is a discerning character and not one to couch an opinion. He said:

“I’m so pleased that this is good as I didn’t know what I would say to you otherwise.”

It was certainly a relief to hear that from him and he’s provided some more detailed feedback on the manuscript as well.

Several of the comments from early readers are asking for some more personal insights, some more vulnerability in the text. I’ll get my defence in first and say that there are more of these as the book progresses, the early period of arriving in France and being bewildered was something that was slightly alienating but was to be expected. Plenty of people have moved country before.

Having said that, it is a fair point and I’ll be looking to address this feedback when I go through the edits. I agree with you in thinking that it could make the narrative more compelling.

The power of vulnerability is one of the major things I’ve learned since leaving rugby. That environment is not conducive to showing vulnerability in some respects; your mates will pick you up and help but it can feel awkward to address some issues in that context.

Writing content around business leadership introduced me to the power of ‘The Undefended Leader’ and the usefulness of ‘Not Knowing’. If you claim to know everything, if you present something that’s not yourself to the world then you will eventually trip up or lose your audience.

Inauthenticity from a leader is obvious, leading to dissatisfaction and a loss of trust. Without trust and satisfaction, a team will never achieve its potential, in sport or elsewhere.

No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.

- Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Scarlet Letter

Inauthenticity made me unhappy towards the end of my time in France in various ways. Not speaking my mind and the pointlessness of what we were doing really bothered me. I knew what was true but wasn’t respecting it through my actions and it made me angry.

With this book I feel like I’ve respected myself by being honest and authentic. There’s a liberation in saying what you think and letting it sit.

Don’t trade your authenticity for approval.

- Kanye West

Of course, being authentic doesn’t mean that you’re right, especially in this case as it’s my version of the story. I’m telling it from my perspective and I suspect that not everyone would agree with my views. I’d be happy to debate them if that was the case but I like to think that I’ve been fair in my telling. You’ll have to read the finished article and decide for yourself if that’s true.

Ben Mercer