Thursday, May 12, 2011

On the road again

Tonight I'll be taking a train back to New York City (woohoo!) after being gone for nearly a year.

And then on Monday, when I return (yes, 40 hours of train rides for less than 48 hours in the city), I'll be moving into a small cabin in the woods of Georgia.

I'm excited and nervous. The next few days are going to be super busy for me, and this entire summer is essentially going to be me... alone. In a cabin. My partner will be taking care of our pets, and I'll be back at "our" apartment often enough, but this is a time of self-reflection for m.

Oh, writing too. Of course there will be writing. And waiting to hear back from Samhain on the submission I put in last week.

However, I've never been truly alone. I'm 26 years old this year, and I've never had the opportunity to really rely on JUST myself for any period of time. I moved in with my partner almost five years ago, after moving out of my college dorm room (essentially from my parents' house), and he was already an established adult. I haven't really had my own "grown up" time.

I know I sound like a crazy person. Trust me, if I had it my way I'd be living in a tent this summer rather than a two bedroom cabin with a full kitchen, running water, electricity, and even a television. But no working channels. Oh, and my AT&T service doesn't reach this part of the country. And there's no line for internet, either.

I'm starting to sound crazy to myself.... No internet?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

How do you edit?

This question can be read in several ways, depending on the word you emphasize.

How do you edit?
Editing is new to me. I was one of those students that wrote a first draft only if it was a requirement, and only changed the parts of the paper that the teacher or professor deemed insufficient. Otherwise, my first draft and final copy were more or less identical. Unfortunately, to submit something for publication, brushing off the editing process is not an option.

It. Is. Painful.

Editing my own work, that is. Critiquing and beta-reading other writers' works is easy enough for me. I can pick out awkward syntax, errors in punctuation, plot holes and incorrect word usage fairly easily. In my own writing, however, it's more difficult. ("It's," by the way, was an error I found today in my MS that I blushed at, even though no one else was watching. I know the difference between "its" and "it's," yet I found one where the other belonged today while editing.)

How do you edit?
I thought editing was just glancing over the pages, picking out grammar errors and fixing them on the fly. And having MS Word doing most of the work makes it easy. No? That's not editing?

How do you edit?
Everyone seems to have their own techniques, from simply shipping their manuscript off to a beta reader and letting them do all the work, to reading and rereading their work until their eyes start watering and the bloody mess of a manuscript is begging to be shipped off to a publisher or agent just to be relieved of the agony of being ripped apart and stitched back together.

Since editing is new to me, and no one can give me a real answer as to how it should be done, the process I used for my first manuscript is this:

1. I set it aside for weeks and didn't look at it. (To say I didn't think about it would be a lie.) I went into the mountains and spent three nights sleeping in the woods, trying to forget about it. I went to Universal Studios and tried to shake the characters out of my head for a little while and enjoy my Butterbeer and pumpkin juice. It almost worked.

This is an abbreviated version of what I think was what Ray Bradbury did with his work. He set it aside for exactly one year, and then went back to it and reread it as if it were completely new to him. Well, I didn't have a year, I had two weeks where I just really didn't want to look at the piece at all.

2. I went through what my beta readers and critique partners had commented on, and fixed the glaring errors first. (Yet no one caught the "it's.")

3. I tried rereading it and realized I was skipping passages because I already knew what I had written, and realized that wasn't what editing was.

4. So I forced myself to pay attention to EVERY.SINGLE.WORD. I plugged each chapter into a text-to-voice program on my computer, and I am currently in the process of listening to a computerized voice read back my story to me. This way, I can HEAR awkward sentence structure. I'm forced to pay attention to sentences that could use more description. Just in the first chapter alone I've found major parts that need revamping.

Which leads to the next question....

How do you edit?
That is, how do you actually EDIT. I found that when I was going through my manuscript, I didn't just edit. I deleted. I rewrote. I changed names. I added characters. I wrote more. And by the time I was finished with my first round of edits, I had an extra 2000 words that needed... editing. When is the story done? When can you finally say editing is taking place, editing is finished, the manuscript is ready to be sent off?

So there it is. How do you edit?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Z is for Zeus's Robber Frog

It seems like not much is known about this critter apart from being endangered, but he is adorable, isn't he?

Zeus's Robber Frog, isolated to a small area of Cuba, is closely related to the more popular Puerto Rican coquí. The coquí, so called because of the chirping noise it makes, is found in El Yunque, the only rainforest belonging to the U.S. Forest Service!

The writer in me has a huge pet peeve. Everywhere I found information on this frog, it was written as Zeus'. So I've used "Zeus's" rather than "Zeus'," because that's just how it is supposed to be--you wouldn't say "my boss' car"!

I'm a little late, but I (mostly) did it!

Um... Sorry I'm a few days late. I was backpacking the Great Smoky Mountains all weekend and totally forgot to set this on auto-post! That's a story for another day though, and no, while bears were spotted near our campsite by other hikers on the second night, we didn't see any!