Saturday, November 24, 2007

Edits Have Arrived

Bob's edits came in the mail today. The person who delivered the box stuffed it into the space below the mailbox and on top of the newspaper receptacle, which, if it had been raining, would have ruined it. They're supposed to bring a package up to the door and set it close to the house if it won't fit in the mailbox. Grr. Thank goodness it wasn't raining or snowing today.

It's funny--the edits I had slated for myself are actually more extensive than the ones Bob has asked me to make. It wasn't as bad as I feared, nor did he want anything very elaborate. He did want me to eliminate one of the remaining two of Brenna's movie references, so I guess they all need to go. Here's why: as movie/TV references are pop culture references, they will end up dating the book too much if I leave them in. Now that he's explained it, I can understand. One of my crit partners even mentioned the same thing earlier, but I didn't think it would be a problem. Since Bob says it is, I'll bow to his greater wisdom and remove them all. But I will miss Brenna's movie quotes. They were a quirky part of her character that I liked.

There are some changes I won't be able to make without damaging the worldbuilding, but I think I can at least re-work the references in question so their significance is more apparent. I'll do just what he wants as long as it doesn't knock anything important off kilter, and if that happens I'll find a work-around or a compromise if possible. It helps that Bob used to be an editor; this is good practice for when I have to consider changes for an editor at a publishing house. Bob did tell me that I don't have to make the changes verbatim; his corrections are more like guidelines rather than actual rules.

Hah! Movie reference.

Monday, November 19, 2007

One By One

Okay, I'm knocking edits off the list I by one. After talking to Bob on the phone, I had made a list of about six different minor issues that needed to be addressed in From the Ninth Wave. At this point, I've finished trolling for adjectives and eliminated all of the extraneous ones. The ones I kept needed to stay because they clarified some description or otherwise made a difference to the readers' understanding of something. The ones I eliminated were in places where I had two or three when I really only needed one, or the noun was strong enough to stand alone and ditching the adjective didn't paint too austere a picture.

Then there were the content edits. My character had the habit of making occasional movie references. I had to eliminate any of those that undercut an otherwise tense scene. It's really too bad; thinking in terms of movie quotes was my heroine's way of lightening the mood when things got too tense for her, and it showed who she was as a character. But if she did it in a place where it also diffused the tension for the reader, it had to go. Even my favorite one--a quote by Milady DeWinter from Disney's The Three Musketeers. Dang it. I know, I know. Kill your darlings. Well, I only kept two in the entire book; neither was a direct quote, and neither diffused the tension because they didn't come in the middle of a crisis. Tricky little bit of work, that was.

As for the rest, I still need to go through and find a few places where I can spice certain things up here and there, and I need to find all the places where I somehow managed to make my point twice. That's going to be trickier for me to find, but I'll do it. I should be nearly done with this round. I'm hoping it's the last until a publisher gets her/his hands on it.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hanging With the Dog

I worked on the edits last night (Friday) until late, got four hours' sleep and then had to take the kids to a club meeting in the morning. Then we went to a movie matinee, and by the time we got home, I just wanted to take a nap. Four hours' sleep just doesn't do it for me. So I napped for another three or four hours in the middle of the day, then got up and worked on the book again in the evening. There were the usual family interruptions, and then I wanted a late night snack. So after everyone else had gone to bed, somehow the dog and I ended up hanging out downstairs for a while. She doesn't always want to go to bed when everyone else does, either. Now I've just let her into the kid's room that she sleeps in--after another 2-hour nap on the couch--and I'm about to finish my last two chapters worth of adjective-slaying. Yes, in the middle of the night. I have always been a night owl to one degree or another. I need to fix that, but as long as I have edits to do, I'm not going to try to fix my broken schedule. I'll do whatever works. The dog doesn't seem to mind, and now that she's gone to bed at last, the cat is in my office with me, snoozing on the ottoman next to my desk. One snoozy animal or another.... Even asleep, they're good company. Makes me feel a little less like a vampire, though whether I'll ever be a perky morning person is another question altogether.

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I'm still blasting adjectives. At this point I'm a little over halfway done, and should now be able to finish a bit more quickly and move on to the few plot-related things that Bob and I discussed on the phone.

The past two weeks have been really busy for me, between my manuscript corrections, critting another Moxie member's manuscript (for her first book, which she has finally finished after a lot of hard work), getting costumes, etc. ready for Halloween, and then getting ready for our annual bellydance Hafla (sort of a party/bazaar/performance all in one) this weekend. My older daughter and I performed in one group dance and one duet, and since our bellydance wardrobes are still fairly limited, I had to do some costuming in order for us to have something special to wear this year.

Someone asked me why I spent a few days making costumes for the Hafla rather than working on my manuscript, when I had a deadline. The biggest reason is that my daughter isn't going to be an early teen forever. There will probably come a day when she no longer thinks performing on stage with Mom is cool--when she wants to do her own thing and hang out with cooler people than me. This Hafla only happens once a year, and other performances are rare for us. I have no way of knowing what will change in the next year or even the next month. (This is a teenager, after all.) Once I have the sought-after book contract, things will change in ways I may not be able to predict. If this should happen to be the only time we ever get to do a dance performance together, then I wanted it to be special. I needed (needed, not wanted) a new top for my costume, and she wanted something new as well. It took time--one of my most precious resources--but it was worth it. She loved the new top I came up with for her, and she looked wonderful in it. It made her look and feel pretty and raised her confidence, so it was worth every minute of my time. We shared a fun experience that brought us closer as mother and daughter, which made it priceless. The costumes and practices cost me many hours, but if I'd begrudged those hours, I could have regretted it for the rest of my life. Now that the Hafla is over, I'm back at work on my novel, and I'll still finish within the three-to-six week deadline Bob gave me. He said, "three weeks--six if you want to have a life." Well, I do want to have a life, and I want to live it in a state of balance.

Priorities. They need to be in balance, or else what's the point? I could easily be a workaholic. I could focus on the writing to the exclusion of every other pursuit or hobby. But I have the feeling that if I did that, I'd end up like so many other driven writers often do...with a dry well. And one day when my kids had fled the nest and gone off to live their separate lives, I'd wonder whether it was all worth it. I don't want to wonder what might have happened if I'd been more involved with my kids or the activities I love. I also don't want to wonder what might have happened if I'd been more devoted to my career. I want both, and somehow I will have both.