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Slice of Life

So I was down at Davenport & Winkleperry, our chosen (and indeed only) coffee shop, had finished about seventy pages worth of edits on Bread Wizard (ok, finished, ha! I had made the teeny little one-line changes and started up another document worth of notes about Things I Have To Address At Some Point In Here for about seventy pages worth of text.*) and packed up my laptop, took a last slug of coffee, and headed out the door to my car.

Partway down the sidewalk, seated on the curb (we have quite large two-step curbs here, owing to settling and historic districts) was an elderly woman. She didn’t look so great. It’s a hot day, and she had a tube in her nose attached to a little bag, and her husband was hovering over her, looking a bit concerned. When he saw me, he lifted a hand hopefully.

I was a bit worried that I was going to have to whip out my phone and call an ambulance, so I hurried over and asked if she was doing okay.

“Oh, well…” He spread his hands. “She’s gonna need a little help getting up…”

She wasn’t a large woman but he was clearly even older than she was. Apparently the heat was bothering her and she had to sit down on the curb, and then he wasn’t able to get her back up, and didn’t want to leave her to go get someone. “Our car’s right here,” he said. “Do you think…?”

“Of course!” I said. She was extremely pale, and I figured we should probably get her up and into air conditioning as soon as possible, however that might be.

“You should go in the shop and get someone,” said the little old lady, in the rather loud voice of the somewhat hard-of-hearing.

“We’ve got someone right here,” he said. “She’s going to help us.”

I stepped around so that she could see me.  She eyed me for a minute, then said, in what she undoubtedly thought was a whisper, “I’m not sure she can do it!”

He gave me a pained look. I grinned. In fairness, while I have been generously endowed in the hip and breast department, my wrists are exceedingly thin and I often wind up wearing children’s-size gloves, so she can be forgiven for thinking that I probably couldn’t bench press a baked potato. And it would be quite awkward–possibly even painful–to have someone try to help you up and fail.

“She’ll be fine,” he said firmly.

“We’ll have you up in no time,” I said, feeling like I should contribute something to the discussion, and reassuring her that I spent a lot of time slinging mulch didn’t seem like it would get us anywhere.

We each took one of her hands and pulled her to her feet. If she weighed more than a loaded wheelbarrow of topsoil, I would be quite surprised.

“Oh!” she said. “Why, thank you!” And then again to her husband, in the not-very-quite whisper, “She did better’n you!”

“Told you,” he said smugly. I tried very hard to not to start laughing.

He got her in the car, thanked me, and offered me a ride home if I needed it. (It occurs to me that they may have thought I was extremely young, which is probably due mostly to the fact that the older you get, the more everybody looks about twelve.) I declined, pointed to my car, and wished them luck.

There is no possible moral to this story, I just thought it was funny.


*If anybody’s ever interested in hear about the weirdass stage of the writing process known as “editing,” I would be happy to do a post about it sometime, but I’m not sure if it’s any more interesting to write about than to live through.

Originally published at Tea with the Squash God. You can comment here or there.


So Your Book Just Got Edited…

Enough people made vaguely interested noises in the editing process that I thought I’d talk about it a bit. It’s definitely the tedious, grim, discouraging bit of the process, but it occurs to me that you, O Prospective Author, may find it even more traumatic if nobody tells you what to expect!

First, two caveats. I’ve had…I think…twelve books edited at this point, and that’s awesome, but the vast screaming majority were Dragonbreath books, and as editing goes, that’s a walk in the park with singing and dancing and happy bunnies frolicking in the grass. Only two or three required actual serious story-construction editing, where I had to grab whole scenes and shove them somewhere else, and my editor said things like “I don’t know–this bit just isn’t working here.” In 15K, you have to get everything done RIGHT NOW, and there is not much time for subtlety. This makes them tougher to write, in some regards, but it also means that I can edit most of them in an evening. (I believe I once edited one in an hour, at about 3 AM when I couldn’t sleep.)

This is not what happens with novels. It is not what happened with Nurk, although that was certainly a very short book, and not what happened with Black Dogs and not what is happening with Bread Wizard, which is the book that lies before me, quivering, with its delicate little organ meats splayed out on the slab. (Seriously, this is kinda what it feels like. Editing is like major surgery. On both you AND the book.)

Second caveat—I would love to hear from some other authors on their experience. This is JUST what’s happened to me, and may not be universal by any stretch. You’re talking to someone who’s first book sale (Black Dogs) was less than a decade ago, and I’ve only ever been with three presses, one small, two large. I simply haven’t been around long enough to say “This, here, is universal.” So take everything with a grain of salt.

A post about editing that I didn't edit! It's meta!Collapse )