Archive for September 2009
Just finished my Eternal Press business for the next couple of months. Since I worked on two short stories this round I feel like I just got off the Tilt-a-Whirl. Answering questions for one author while working on another's story was confusing, then there were all the "Didn't I already do the credits document?" moments. I don't know how a full-time editor (or an agent, for that matter) keeps all their clients and all their books straight. It's no wonder things get lost in the shuffle. I guess it just takes practice, and even though I've learned a lot with this little editing job, I haven't edited enough yet for the process to be automatic. I have a feeling, though, that it might never become automatic. Each author has his/her own distinct personality, and each story offers a different challenge. So while the procedure might be easier to remember, cracking open a new story will always feel like improvisation.
My oldest child is home sick today. I find decisions involving the children to be so difficult, whether or not a child should stay home, whether to call the school about mayhem on the bus, how much tv is too much, whether to force the eating of vegetables, and there's always the question of how to pass along a sense of the spiritual when I follow no doctrine. It seems like every decision with the kids is ambiguous, and I'm not good with ambiguity. I like deadlines and rules.
I was just about jumping out of my skin yesterday. Everything I could think to do for entertainment costs money. I'm strongly considering getting a small part-time job during the day, just to keep busy. Requirements: No working with the public; no standing in one place for long periods (though walking around is ok); an ultra-low fragrance environment; 2-4 hours between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. sharp. That's it. That takes out just about every job I've ever done in the past.
But now I'm way behind on housework and editing work, so I doubt I'll be online much if at all today. I wish you all a happy Monday!
And there is why I'm streamlining and culling this blog. When I started it I was a budding writer, rosy-cheeked and wide-eyed, finishing up my first book. I absolutely knew nobody in the world would read my blog. I imagined a cloak of invisibility based on my self-perceived importance in the blogisphere, which was no importance whatsoever. It was fine and dandy for me to shout out my writer's angst, the struggles of finishing a manuscript, and following that, the struggles of form rejections from agents. Then I got an agent, and while I had the feeling things should change, I wasn't sure what, exactly.
And no, I haven't had huge rants about the inanity of any certain industry professional, nor have I given scathing reviews of any books. But I'm starting to get uncomfortable talking about the process at all. I find myself reluctant to mention anything about my writing, yet sometimes I still force myself to, because this is a writer's blog... But I'm going to stop that. I will talk about writing in more general terms, which in the long run will probably snag more readers anyway.
The general idea in the comments yesterday was that a blog represents the road you've walked, and it's nice to have that history for people to peruse. Only thing is, if I look at someone's archives and find in January '07 a rant against stay-at-home moms, that's going to affect how I see that person's present personality, even if they made peace with the SAHM who was giving them problems in January '07 and that rant no longer applies.
I'm not the wide-eyed, over-sharing, timid person I was 3 1/2 years ago. This is my career blog, with my name on it for all the world to see. At this point, I want the blog to reflect what I've learned, not how I learned it.
If you look above the header, you'll see a few buttons with various subscription options. You can either syndicate the content to your favorite RSS reader or get the posts in your email. You can also register as a user of the blog, which is most useful for solving avatar issues, apparently. After you've registered, there's a login button which should (if I've configured it correctly) bring you directly back to the blog once you've logged in.
I've deleted approximately the first half of my posts. My first blog was 3 1/2 years and four URLs ago, and I've just been dragging those old posts around with me. I feel pretty good about leaving them behind on my previous blog site, and soon I'll be cleaning up that template to reflect its abandonment.
I have a strong urge to wrap things up, finish old projects, de-clutter my life. We'll see how long the urge lasts. Meanwhile, wear out that "Subscribe by Email" button, why don'tcha.
I've already raked in more wishes for a happy day than in years past, and it's only 8 a.m. ~~~ oopsie, phone, brb.
Two hours later: I've been talking finance with the bro and metaphysics with the mom, during which I also made myself a ham and cheese scramble for breakfast.
This birthday seems more cleansing than past birthdays. Although it's just another calendar day, I've come to appreciate these markers by which I can measure myself. I think I'll do a tarot reading for the coming year and look at my astrology and clean up old posts on this blog. I feel so different now, those old posts don't even fit me anymore.
I hope you have a great day, too.
My response, as you can imagine, was "What's up with this?" Turns out a delivery truck had wrecked, and its haul of Tony's frozen party pizzas was quickly thawing. These guys were driving up and down the back streets looking for people at which to throw boxes. Unfortunately for them, Sunday morning is church time in these parts, so they weren't having much luck.
I said I'd take two and they threw off four. I schlepped one box around to three neighbors' houses but no one answered, so I ended up calling my mom to come get the two that wouldn't fit in my freezer.
I'm torn over my windfall. Free food, who wouldn't love that? Yet as far as food goes, it's not very nourishing and takes up all the freezer space I would use for more healthy food (and ice cream). Thank goodness--or not--I was going shopping today so I actually had the space in the freezer. DH forbade me to give any more away.
I don't know if the guys ever got rid of all that pizza.
Well, I finally got Windows Live Writer installed, hooray. I tried fixing many different things, but I think the thing that made the difference was updating my .NET thingymabob, whatever that’s for. But who cares, it worked and I’m composing this scintillating post in the aforementioned program.
Since I’m constantly connected to the Internet, the main reason I wanted WLW was to back up my blog, and I’m hoping one of the Darcs can help me figure out how to do that. Once it’s backed up I’ll start pulling some of the old posts which are simply spam magnets and fluff. Who knows, maybe I’ll delete everything and start from scratch. That’s a terrifying prospect.
We had a lovely Saturday, with a spontaneous outing to our town’s annual Frontier Days festival. My daughter got to walk in the parade with her academic team, and afterwards the kids rode the tiny roller coaster and the Scrambler, one of my favorites but I’m too old for spinny rides now.
We got home just in time for OU/Tulsa kickoff (I fell asleep before the end, but it was pretty clear we would win) and generally shirked all responsibility for the day. Oh, that’s not true. First thing this morning I wrapped up a little editing work.
I guess we can’t shirk responsibility forever, and tomorrow will see the yard mowed and the kitchen cleaned and hopefully some writing done.
Yesterday I finished typing my scenes into yWriter, and today I'll print the list to figure out where the new material needs to go. I've never been an organizing writer and had put myself in the "seat of the pants" category, however, I think I've found the circumstance when using a system can help me. It's long since I pants-seated the original vision, and I have piles of scenes which need cohesion and a majorly-revised plot full of holes. I tried the notecard method, but it didn't work for me then. Writing the long synopsis at the request of an editor broke things loose for me, allowed me to fix the plot problems, and gave me a direction. Next time I won't wait so long before writing a long outline, and I won't turn my nose up at organizational tools. I will no longer put myself in a category, neither pantser nor outliner, because labels are so limiting! Damn it!
Another thing I need to do is read some new books. The f/sf section of my library has old stuff plus each book carries the deadly air freshener molecule, so that's out. I'm poor, so I can get just a few books off the bargain table, maybe. I thought about getting into one of those book-trading rings, but they'd smell like all the houses they were in before. I'm going to just open my mind to possibilities and see what comes up. One of the most limiting things I do to myself is to assume I know all my options, which makes me blind to others. My vision is wide open.
Then I started thinking about how I talk about movies and books. Do I give thoughtful commentary and gentle advice? Not really. Usually I declare something sucks or rocks. And though saying something sucks is not thoughtful commentary, it's a lot gentler language than I've seen lots of interweb denizens use.
I know intellectually not everyone will like my work. But in my mental preparation I've focused on professional reviews, and most professionals have a certain amount of decorum, and normally don't use phrases like "hated it" or "sucked the big one" or "OMG its so stupid do NOT read tihs book" (sic). I'm pretty sure I can process professional criticism. A reader's criticism, I'm not so sure.
So...am I ready for that? Are you?
Of course, it's not only scent intake management that's helping. I'm really getting more tolerant. I believe I absolutely needed this year off from fragrance to heal, because things which bothered me before, like being around other people, are no longer the huge problem they were. Obviously, if someone's wearing perfume or has freshly-washed hair then I'm just as bad off as before. Also, air freshener still bothers the hell out of me, but overall the improvements are enormous. I'm hopeful for an eventual full recovery. However, I'll continue to encourage people to think about the harmful chemicals we're exposed to every day, and I will forever hate air "freshener" with a passion.
My dreams the past few days have included a lot of elements from this game I'm playing--Metroid Prime. Super Metroid was my favorite a long, long time ago, back before I had babies and still had time to play video games. I love how it has action, but it's not all action, you also have to figure out puzzles with clues from made-up lore in the ruins of a civilization. Right up my alley. In Super Metroid all those years ago, I remember playing the whole game with this character in a space suit, then after I won, Samus took off the helmet and...Samus was a girl. What? A girl? AWESOME! That's right, girls play games, too. Girls like to kick butt. But at the time it really shook things up. Now, of course, it's no secret Samus is a girl. The game is awesome, even if Samus were a boy, but it's even awesomer to have a girl character to identify with. It makes me think I could walk through lava if I only had Varia suit. I could blast strange creatures on another planet, if I just had an arm cannon.
I'm actually playing the game too much. My eyes can't take that 1st person, 3D view for very long. Especially since most of my work is done on computer, so there's another 8 hours a day of looking at a screen. When I first took this editing job, I wasn't sure how it would affect my own writing. I figured it would be a good distraction, as well as teaching me more about the business side of publishing. I worried that I might edit instead of writing my own stuff, but then I found it beneficial to have some other things to rotate through. But true to form, I've let the editing completely take over my own writing, and my good-eye time. I'm a serial obsesser, but I am learning how to calm the obsession. The editing job has been good for me.
Yesterday was the Little Bubba's birthday, so we had the family over for a party. It rained literally all weekend, in fact is still raining, but it didn't affect the party at all. One nice surprise was my step-son coming for the party. His birthday was on Saturday (20 years old, yikes!), but he rarely visits even for birthdays, so it was nice having him. I hope he starts visiting more often.
My husband and I had a rare day off together with the kids in school. We visited the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee, an eclectic collection of art and artifacts donated by a worldly a Catholic monk, who was an artist himself.
I realized something while examining the exhibits: I love seeing the evidence of the artist in the art. The brush strokes, the finger prints, the globs of paint, crooked lines you can only see up close...Those are the things that I love to find. I noticed several years ago that when watching a scene with an actor incidentally reflected in a background mirror, I will watch the mirror instead of the foreground. I feel like the person rather than the actor is revealed in the reflection. The actor is presenting his face, a mask for the scene, and the back side is the real him. Guess that's weird, but I guess it's along the same lines of loving an artist's mistakes. It's about revealing the person underneath the art.
And the same can be said of writers. All of them, published novelists, wannabes, bloggers...If a piece of writing interests me, I want to know all about the author. Figure out how the particular piece germinated. Don't you?
I didn't get much of my own writing done because of the migraine. I used the lucid times to get some editing done for the Eternal Press stories. I don't know if I'm very good at juggling two stories at once, but I can already tell it's going to be a good lesson. It's so rewarding to get the manuscript back from the author after the first round of edits, the hardest part. Seeing it so much cleaner than it was when we started is awesome.
Something else I've been thinking about is this uproar over the presidential address to the schools. I never get political on here, mostly because I'm on the fence about all the issues and I know my limitations. I affiliate with no party. But why is everyone being so unreasonable about this? I understand how a parent might worry a politician might try to indoctrinate the young'uns to his ideas, and how that parent might wish to look over the speech before it is delivered. The way some folks have reacted to the very idea of that speech, text unseen, is ... I'm just flabbergasted. He won't have hypnotic lasers beaming directly into our children's brains. It's, what--20 minutes out of their day? When the kids come home from school, I'll ask them if they saw the speech, and what they thought of it, and address any questions they have--if they're even showing it at our school, I haven't asked. What happened to calm reason? Waiting to find out the facts before freaking? Or has that always been a quality in the minority?
I invite your comments and discussion on this issue, 'cuz I know you will. All I ask, since I have readers on both sides of the fence, is to keep the snark to a minimum. Snark reflects worse on the snarker than the snarkee, and solves nothing. Calm reason, please.
I mentioned earlier that my editing projects this time are both erotica stories. Now, I'm not a prude by any means, but I am demure. Sex and sexy things are mostly private for me, and while I don't care if others feel comfortable talking about them, I was interested to see how I would react. It's funny how un-erotic erotica can be when you're looking for punctuation errors. I knew I would be fine when I made this note without blushing: "You said where Guy #1's ____ is, but what about Guy #2's _____?"
What language to use in my notes is something I've wondered about. Do I mirror the language of the story in notes like the one above? It sounds too dirty for a professional. So do I use the correct terminology? Well, that sounds too stiff and uptight (puns intended). So I think it's cute to use nicknames, like you-know-what and hoo-ha, but that's not precise enough. I guess I'll go with correct terminology, since I am a professional, after all, and you can't go wrong with penis and vulva.
I printed out my book, right? Well I just got done separating the scenes, which was extremely satisfying. I have a buttload of stuff that needs writing, mostly toward the end, but at least now I can see what I have, right in front of my eyes. I have direction. Some of it can't be used, but not much. Also, I have some scenes written from other PsOV that really work, and I'm reconsidering my single POV approach. And another thing? It's good writing. You know how when you take a story out of the drawer in which you stuffed it with disgust some months ago and find that it isn't as bad as you remember? In fact, it's workable? Like, you wouldn't kick someone out of bed for writing something similar? That surge you get? That's me. I guess it's clear how big of a deal this is to me. I'm pretty proud of myself. Ready to go. Glad I climbed out of some boxes and did this.
To top it off, I'm doing some really good editing work, and getting some housework done. I love productive days. Can you tell?
I thought for a while about how I could enhance the gripping power of that roller. Double-stick tape would stick to the paper, too. I could wrap a rubber band around it, but finding one the right size would be tedious. How about if I roughed up the surface of the roller, by scraping it with a steak knife? But then it hit me: rubber cement. Rubber cement is rubbery (hence the name) and dries fast, and if you get it anywhere it shouldn't be it rubs right off once it's dry. I didn't have much faith it would work. It was too easy.
But it did work! Woo! I printed out all my files with only one bad page. I didn't run out of ink or anything.
I'm really glad I printed it out. I'm a total Scrooge when it comes to the printer. The cartridges are $20, and that's for crappy remanufactured ones. The kids don't print except on special occasions. I don't print my writing. Now I'm thinking I need to do it. I really don't think electronically. I've known for a long time that I work best with my hands, so why not get writing out here in the real world where I have some tactile input? Because I'm a total Scrooge, remember?
Well, no more. The words don't look the same on a computer screen. I think it may be because I read so many others' words on the same screen, it lessens the immediate response of my brain to my own words. But when I have my story on a bunch of pages in front of me, mine are the only words there. Also, I can rifle through to find the page I want, instead of having to remember which file it's in.
I don't know how much work I'll be able to do on it today. Today the focus was going to be this Eternal Press story I'm editing, and I was going to do the sorting of pages when I needed a computer break. My sinuses are acting up, though, so I don't know how much eye time I'll have. We'll see how it goes.