Small Celebrations – October 11, 2013


Once again it’s Friday and time to happily participate in VikLit’s wonderful blog hop marking the small celebrations that make life special.  Why don’t you participate?  Details are at the end of this post.

We commemorate small celebrations, and this week I’m posting about one of my smallest.

cold morning, affectionate little girlfriend – happiness!

She is seven pounds, ten years old, chocolate brown, feisty and very sweet.  Her name is Frida and she came to me in May of 2005 through the kind generosity of a friend.  Frida is a Burmese cat, a breed that originated on the Malayan peninsula.  Go to Thailand and Burma and you will find little brown cats walking in the streets.  This little girl’s ancestors came to the United States in 1930, accompanying a sailor who had taken ship at Kowloon.

I’ve loved Burmese since 1965.  I have owned them since 1980. 

In her I have my best little girlfriend, my feisty little angel, and a peppery but sweet companion.  Who could ask for more?  She’s worth celebrating!
http://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=179014

Hurry up!


Ever had a itch between your shoulder-blades? The sort that is driving you nearly mad, but which you know can’t be scratched because the act of scratching will only make matters worse and you will end up itching for the rest of your life?
 
Or, perhaps, wanted to treat yourself to some forbidden dainty – and known – just knownthat you won’t be able to stop eating?
 
That’s a little like my current position with Mourningtide.  The story is nearly finished, it’s almost ready to go – but it just is not quite ready.  There are things to do, things that mustbe done if I don’t want to release a book that is not my best effort.
 
Well, as with any itch, if you ignore it, it will go away.  The story will be finished, people will like it, I’ll like putting it out to be read, the cover will look good and I’ll smile.  It’s happened before, but I’m one of those people who likes to show folks their gifts before the proper date. 

In the mean time, I can laugh at myself, plug in my laptop, fire up Scrivener (did I mention that I love it?), and make corrections, and add scenes that occur to me.

And I can commune with my editor.
 
Have I mentioned my editor?  Everyone needs one, especially one like her.  Even if she is a pain in the neck, she’s about as charming as they come.  …and here she is!
 
I call her my ‘attractive nuisance’.  (Interesting legal concept: something that can cause a lot of annoyance, rage, damage, you name it, while being simply irresistible.)  Notice the position of her posterior?  Yes, on the pile of manuscript.  That is her clever way of keeping me from hurrying too much.

Polishing a Draft


So, you have finished your story.  It is complete.  The tale has been told and was done rather well, if you say so yourself.  You ‘compile’ the manuscript (for, after all, you are using Scrivener) and you then print the thing.  The result is a two-inch thick pile of bright white paper with printing on it.  The manuscript.  Finished!  Hurrah!



Wordsmithing as I do it.  The logic is hidden by the lack of prettiness…
The delight lasts only as long as it takes you to flip to a random page, and read…
“Did I say that?  What a passive construction!  What was I thinking?
You seize a pencil/pen/whatever, circle the offending phrase, write in what you should have written if you had not been under-caffeinated, and then sit back, scowling, and look at the rest of the manuscript.
…And now you are in ‘polish’ mode.
It’s been a while since I did this, and I had forgotten how enjoyable it is.   Wordsmithing, pure and simple, is a pleasure in itself.  It is, however, annoying when you have been envisioning a finished manuscript and, looking down at it, pen in hand, realized that the thing is anything but.
So you sigh, assemble the things you will need, and go to it.
What do you need?

Just the basics, ma’am, but in all available colors…
Pens.  Lots of them.  They tend to grow legs and walk.  I have one that was made by an artisan using chestnut wood salvaged from an colonial-era house on the seacoast.  Chestnut isn’t seen any more since the blight destroyed most of the chestnut trees.  That’s a pity because the wood is very rot-resistant and has a wonderful color.  Then there are the gel pens that are a delight to write with and have thick, visible ink.  The problem is that the ink tends to sink into paper and go through the other side.  Not pretty. 

Authentic Marvin
the Martian Pen

I also have a special Marvin the Martian pen I bought years ago at a Warner Brothers store and carried to various meetings over the years.
You need highlighters in various colors.  Why?  Well, what if you highlight something in pink and then think of something else that needs to be done with the highlighted passage, but is different?  Pink won’t work, it’ll be confusing.  Besides, hot pink is something of which I can only stand so much.  Purple, I think.  Or maybe blue…
Post-it notes, or reasonable facsimiles thereof, are very useful for marking places (‘Oh – that’s right!  I edited to here!’), marking thoughts (make sure you don’t get cheap imitations because they’ll fall off, and you will face your greatest fear: that your inspired edit will be lost forever and your powerful intellect, having decayed rather badly, will not be able to retrieve the perfect word in the perfect location.)
But you go cooking along, making corrections – until it suddenly occurs to you that the reason that the beginning of the novel seems to plod just a wee bit, with lots of information being made available rather quickly is that you have been going about it the wrong way, and it would work out better if you start in with the third chapter, scrap the first and second chapters, and then adjust as necessary.  You greet this revelation with a cry torn from your very entrails as you realize that the entire beginning of the @#$%! story has to be reworked.

Is it a disaster if it makes the whole story better but drives the writer mad?
You brew another cup of tea (did you read my post about tea?), get out the materials, and go to work, muttering under your breath even as you see that it truly will do better.  You bid farewell to the end of year release, the editor’s feedback, the new story that has been nudging at your elbow and presenting lusciously tempting scenes…  You buckle down –

Will pester for catnip…
And pray that your work is not interrupted by the dreaded ‘attractive nuisance’ that likes to grab your hand as you mouse…