Tuesday, May 26, 2015

And That's My Life...

My agent just sent me a "if you revise your sci fi ms" email with suggestions that mean reworking the entire novel after the first few chapters. This is me:

But I'm going to do it. It's what real authors do; they revise and edit and revise again until it's right (although in my mind, I thought I had it right). I'm not happy or excited about the changes, and yes, it's my prerogative to refuse or try to self publish it as it is, but that's not how the deal works. My agent works hard to present my books to editors so it's only fair that I work just as hard (if not harder) to provide the best possible story (even if I don't happen to agree with all the changes). Life, and publishing are like that. (And if I hear my mother tell me one more time that Dr. Suess got over 50 rejections, I'm going to look like the above picture again.)

Editing, to me, is like cleaning the bathroom. There's the easy stuff, like hanging out fresh towels, it's a visual upgrade. In editing, the equivalent would be fixing the spelling, formatting and grammar mistakes- instantly noticeable (especially with Word using all those green and red squiggle lines). Rereading the manuscript and checking for awkward phrasing, lost story threads, having the character in the wrong place, etc. is like picking the dirty laundry off the floor, emptying the garbage, and putting away the hair brushes and beauty products. The read after that is when you scrub the sinks and tub- you're 'cleaning out' excess words, tightening the sentences, getting rid of what isn't necessary.

It's the last part I hate the most- scrubbing the toilet.

(With 4 males in the house, I know you have a good mental picture of my dilemma.) You have to flush away. It's like a favorite barrette, the one you love for pinning back your wild bangs, has fallen into the bowl. Do you flush it (i.e. send chunks of your manuscript down the pipes even though you love it) or do you man-up and stick your hand in the water and save your barrette? I've changed a lot of diapers so bowl water doesn't frighten me. (I've flushed manuscripts from the first sentence to rewrite the entire novel.) So, I'll save my barrette, the same way I'm going to save my manuscript and make the suggested changes. It's better to risk dirtying your hands to save something you truly love then to watch it swirl away into the septic tank of never-going-to-see-it (or, have it published).

Now, it's time to go flush a good chunk of my manuscript.

And that's my life...


Monday, May 18, 2015

Doing It Old School

(Yes, I've been absent. Sometimes there are bigger things to contend with than doing my blog.

But I'm back.)

See this?

It's my dog-eared, 2002 version, I'm-the-only-one-who-uses-it thesaurus. My sons prefer the Google or Microsoft versions.

To which I say "Pbbbbbbbbbttt!"

The electronic versions SUCK. You get what, maybe 5 or 6 synonyms and one antonym. Excuse me while I don't get excited. Yeah, you find a word that works and use it, taking all of 10 seconds and go on your writing way. That's fine for amateurs.

I'm in the Big Leagues.

Nothing compares to picking up this baby, thumbing through its pages to uncover what you seek- a more precise word instead of settling for an 'ok, this works' substitute.

Example: you've used 'friend' a lot in your manuscript, play, short story. In my Oxford University Press American Thesaurus (the publisher knows and uses English better than Google or Microsoft) are the following entries:

soul mate
alter ego

See the choices? Each one a little more subtle in meaning than the next, opening up a flood of inspiration for the next sentence or even paragraph.

And that's not all.

As I thumb through some of the dirty, wrinkled, maybe torn pages, I am reminded of words that I haven't seen or used in a long time. I'm introduced to new word friends that might just appear in the next sentence or paragraph. Sometimes I like to peruse (word I haven't used in a while, see that?) the verdant pages of words waiting to be discovered, used, or leading to other words. For a writer, it's like an ice cream store (better than candy).

So go old school once in a while and rediscover the thrill of all those words at your fingertips...