Posted: June 22nd, 2012 under Editing, the writing life.

Dropping out of the choir concert was definitely the right decision:  the hours I  did not spend driving to and from the city, and in rehearsal, have been put to use, and the lessened strain helped too.   Usually I spend a lot of time in prep for a concert working on the piano at home, listening to rehearsal tapes or CDs of the music, and I like to come into a concert able to “hear” my part in my head the whole way through, no doubts.  This time I couldn’t–and I could not take the time to do the prep work I wanted to do.    That made it harder to concentrate on the edits.

Where I am now is page 609 of 862 (I have no idea how the other page got in there!!  Will check to make sure there’s not a blank one as a last pass.)    Production is scheduling the copy editor, so the thing must go back when I said I’d send it.    I won’t bore you with the process any more, having described it before, except to say I’ve found weird little fossils of former drafts, most of which Editor caught and some of which I found lying there like a petrified log, right in the middle of something else.  Editor and I find different kinds of fossils, which is interesting.

The hardest thing was finding in the new form the sections whose positions had been changed from the order that Editor had worked on.   Then there’s the  temptation that Dorothy L.  Sayers described so brilliantly in Gaudy Night, with the scholar who kept changing things as a book was going through production.  In my case, the temptation to plump up a subplot,  give a character more lines to fully express himself, etc.   Or tweak this phrase one more time.

Back to work.  I need to get to page 650 before I quit tonight and it’s already 8:42 pm.


  • Comment by Abigail Miller — June 22, 2012 @ 11:58 pm


    One can’t help but feel guilty when dropping a group activity like the concert, but under your deadlines, and with the music being no fun for you and thus twice a time-consuming, obviously the right choice.

    My cousin is here helping me cope with the broken ankle, and is currently carrying around Oath of Fealty (to which I introduced her, preen) on her iPhone. This is delightful.

    I hope you don’t mind if I insert the following. I don’t know how to get in touch with your fan Dave Ring, and I think he should know this if he doesn’t already.


    I have learned some important info about nutrition and neurological degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s, M.S, and maybe even Alzheimer’s. My inherited ataxia is not, in itself, life-threatening, but it is certainly a major contributor to my falling down and breaking my ankle. I thought, since it is genetic, and the protein damage already done, there was nothing much to do be done about it, but it seems that nutritional therapy to keep my mitochondria healthy may be of considerable value.

    A researcher in Houston (to whom my father willed his brain) let us know about it. She has two ataxia patients, brothers, with identical forms of the disease. The older, at 80, is still active and planning a trip to Spain. The younger, who has not bothered to try the nutritional support route, can no longer walk. A very small sample size but a controlled experiment.

    This is the popular reference, a TED talk on youtube, but it is backed up by some serious research, to which I have references. So bring on the kale!

  • Comment by Wickersham's Conscience — June 23, 2012 @ 12:07 am


    And people think that an author’s life is a thing of leisure, free of the pressures of deadlines and demands.

  • Comment by Jenn — June 23, 2012 @ 9:45 am


    Wickersham’s Conscience is right. Before coming across this blog I had the vision of an writer blissfully typing away from page one to page X all in order all coming wonderfully together. What an education I have received. 🙂

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 23, 2012 @ 10:54 am


    I had that idea, years ago. If only I could be a writer, I’d spend a few pleasant hours writing (and while I did so, housework would magically do itself, and money would flow silently into my bank account) and then have plenty of time for all the other things I enjoy. The writing would be easy, but also brilliant and faultless as it flowed from brain to hand to pen and then paper.

    Back when our son was young, and I was extremely busy with him, with the household, etc., I read a New Yorker book review that lamented about the impossibility of expecting novelists to be any kind of guide to human nature, inasmuch as they lived isolated from society and the common problems of most people. (I used to know the wording by heart, but I’ve forgotten it now. The day that issue came, I was dealing with multiple common problems, including our son’s meltdown (autism), the smell from the termite treatment, the need to cook something for supper that would help calm the son, and that would warm up easiliy later when his father came home from work, laundry, worry about my mother’s failing health, my grandmother’s failing health, etc. And I still had pages to write, after everyone was in bed. And I thought–that reviewer thinks “novelist” means young single male with angst living in NYC. Every woman writer I’d ever heard of was immersed in “common problems” of family, friends, life. And I figured that even the guys with the pipe and the Lab, on the back covers of their books, weren’t just hiding in an attic writing all the time (that dog had to be walked!)

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 23, 2012 @ 10:55 am


    See writer fall off the chair laughing hysterically…

  • Comment by Iphinome — June 23, 2012 @ 4:43 pm


    @Jenn I read a lot of Heinlein so my image was a naked grumpy older man surrounded by equally nude nymphomaniac redheads who, while feisty about minor things, were otherwise oddly subservient. And there’s nothing sexist about that, really!

    *walks away muttering something about brains and rubber-bands*

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 23, 2012 @ 5:49 pm


    I read so many writers that my image was blurry around the edges, but included all the details on cover photos that I liked: book-lined study, country place with stone wall for writer to pose against, often dogs, occasionally a horse, writer with plenty of time on his/her hands (or else wouldn’t be relaxed and leaning against the stone wall, or in comfortable armchair in book-lined room. I hadn’t heard of air-brushing photos–and PhotoShop hadn’t been invented.)

    I never saw pictures of some of my favorite writers and thus had no mental image of them at all. And deadlines? Those were for school, not grownups.

  • Comment by Abigail Miller — June 23, 2012 @ 7:18 pm


    Deadlines were part of my growing up, but had nothing (much) to do with writers. That was when the plans and specificationss of one of my parents’ architecture projects were due to be picked up by the contractors for bidding at 7am, and all hands turned to all night to run plans through the printer, with the ammonia scent drifting out of the developing module, and then get the sheets carefully stacked, lined up, stapled, given a brown paper cover, rolled and rubber-banded. Meanwhile an equal number of sets of specs were chattering out of the printer, to be put through the GBC binder to punch the holes and roll the spines on.

    Long LONG ago, when I was very small, the specs were typed on onionskin and run through the diazo printer too, on 8.5×11 sheets. And before the office had the binder, my mother stacked up all the aligned copies, drilled three holes in the left side with the power drill, bradded the sheets inside report covers, and there they were.

    I wasn’t so aware of the push to get the work finished in the run up to the deadline, other than my brother and I maybe having to fend for ourselves in the kitchen more. But you might say that self-publishing is nothing new to us!

  • Comment by Kip Colegrove — June 23, 2012 @ 8:24 pm


    What is it about books that leads people to assume that their production and sales are done casually and in a detached universe? Booksellers are commonly thought of as sitting around with their feet up reading the stock. It’s actually a bustling, detail-oriented, occasionally backbreaking trade. Not removed from Real Life at all.

    It would in fact have been better, when I was a bookseller myself, if I could have read more of the stock; it helps you sell it. That’s one thing about books I’m certain of: if you’re going to deal with them professionally in any way, you have to keep reading.

  • Comment by elizabeth — June 23, 2012 @ 9:12 pm


    And–an update on Saturday night at 10 pm–I just cleared page 800. There is no way I could have done both this and the choir rehearsals and concerts, even if I had been able to sight-read the music perfectly from day one. I’ve been starting before 8 am and going to nearly midnight, with the necessary breaks to keep from turning into a lump of concrete. I really should have dropped out before the first Saturday rehearsal.

    Anyway. As usual in any editing process, the number of sets of eyes on it increase the errors found and corrected. I just hope I haven’t introduced new ones. Considering the stuff that had to be moved around, untangled, rephrased, re-punctuated, etc, mistakes are almost (but not quite) inevitable. I found some things Editor didn’t, which makes me less smug than it would if she hadn’t found things I’d missed.

    Next week’s another jam-up: son’s dental appointment on Monday, my tax-appraisal-district appointment on Monday, last choir rehearsal of summer on Wednesday, husband’s next medical procedure appointment on Thursday (for which I have to be driver), trip to city to pick up son and groceries for Saturday’s reception on Friday, the memorial service and reception on Saturday. WHEW. I hope to mail the edits back on Tuesday, but that will entail–in addition to working on the last pages of actual edits–writing up the notes for Editor and for the copy editor, and having a print shop print out the thing for me (since I won’t have time to coax my old printer to do it, even if I spend all Tuesday on it.)

    Even so, I hope to get some work done on Book V somewhere in there.

  • Comment by Jenn — June 24, 2012 @ 7:48 am



    I hope you did not injure your coccyx when falling off your chair at #5. That would make the end of this week rather annoying with all the driving you will have to do.

  • Comment by Karen H — June 24, 2012 @ 11:29 am


    I don’t know how you manage to juggle everything, but I’m glad you do. I love your books.

  • Comment by Kevin Steverson — June 25, 2012 @ 8:39 am



    I will just sit here quietly so as not to disturb you. Just one less thing for you to pile on your plate. A good NCO knows when to be seen and not heard. Though patience goes against my nature, go figure, I do have the discipline to wait for the books…..I hope. Have a great day.

  • Comment by Ginny W. — June 25, 2012 @ 1:48 pm


    I am happy that you are satisfied with your decision, and concerned for your week ahead. God bless you with peace during it all.

  • Comment by Ed Schoenfeld — June 26, 2012 @ 4:13 pm


    When I read this:

    “Editor and I find different kinds of fossils, which is interesting.”

    I thought, how pleasant for you that you and Editor do not do each others work over and over again, digging a massive mental rut in the process.

    I also discovered why I did not complete my own attempt at writing something long (Aspiring Author Ed to Writer/Editor Ed: “Down Boy! Leave itr alone! That part is DONE!” Never could convince that man to stop fixing things . . .)

    Please, dear lady, keep your sanity through this week so we can enjoy your wisdom and talent for years to come. And please accept my sympathy; I don’t believe I’ve commented since the tragic los.

  • Comment by Nadine Barter Bowlus — June 26, 2012 @ 5:30 pm


    Glad you are making progress. Have edited and reedited my own technical manuals–much empathy and positive energy to you. And a belated thankyou to all for the “lesson” on “register” and the discussion that followed. I learned a lot. Awareness of “register” is adding an enjoyable layer to the current reread of books 1-3. Reading one POV at a time, all the way through.

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