I solved converting 331 typed pages of a novel into a text file at a printing services company. They didn't do OCR but, for a piffling £24, they mass-scanned the pages into PDFs - the tedious bit. Did the OCR myself.
Handing over the musty paperware I was jittery: "This novel was written in 1972, long before home computing. THIS IS THE ONLY VERSION IN EXISTENCE." The woman at PIP promised to guard it with her life.
I’ve been dwelling on the work’s origins. I'd been in the USA for five years and wanted to set a novel there. I had a physical template (ie, appearance only, not the – virtually unknown - personality) of a woman in the local library as my central character. I'd recently visited Garden City on Long Island and saw it as the best and worst of US suburbia – a great start to the story. Like many post-adolescents I was thrilled by the plot of Colette's novel Le Blé en Herbe (seductive older woman seduces teenage youth) and intended to adapt it. I had seen The Graduate (l967) but wasn’t knowingly influenced.
Re-reading I found I’d spent more pages than planned on the marriage break-up which preceded the lad. Why? Perhaps because I was starting to fall in love with the character I’d created. Called her Wendy because it hinted at her fallibility. Inevitably I grew to unlove her youthful swain, called him Tommy. Yah-sucks-boo.
Note for the credulous: these phrases “fell in love” and “unlove her youthful swain” are authorial rather than sexual sensations, caused by the creative opportunities generated by fictional folk. I wrote Breaking Out rather too quickly. Now, five subsequent novels down the pike, I see it needs re-writing. Will Wendy still exercise her power?