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Saturday, April 3, 2010

AFDOC 13: Weeding those Words

AFDOC saw a complete revision of two major chapters this past week. One I compacted into 3,000 words or so from over 5,000. It's so difficult to read your own work with the eyes of an editor but so absolutely necessary. Pruning and weeding in the yard are apt analogies for what we must do to our precious words if anyone else is going to get to the majesty our work without being forced to wade through our diatribes to get there. And the important point here is that most of us as readers won't take the time to do that. Until a few years ago, I stood fast in my resolve to finish any book I started - give the author a fighting chance. However, I now resolutely refuse to give them more than a chapter or two. If I'm confused or bored or disgusted by that point, it hits the floor. {This is not a metaphor. I drop my books next to my bed where I gather them up in a stack to return to the library. It was only recently that one of my family members informed me that every time I drop one, they wake up thinking it's an intruder. Lest you think they are being overly dramatic {which is compulsive habit in our home} I sleep on an antique rice bed that requires a stool to climb onto it. So from four feet up, a dropped book does make quiet a noise.} I gently lower them to the floor now and pick up another from the perennial stack on my night table. And before you get your knickers in a twist, I do not throw books on the floor. I drop them gently, but it still makes a resounding thud.

I read every day from a writing book of some sort, and this week, among others, I revisited the hilarious and succinct book on getting published - 78 Reason your book may never be published & 14 Reasons why it jut might. When discussing the worst manuscript ever submitted to him, Pat Walsh brought me to this discussion of hitting the delete key repeatedly. In his ribald style, he says the "manuscript was so self-indulgent, smarmy, and shoddy" it made his eyes bleed. I would never want to be responsible for making anyone's eyes bleed, and I will just die if someone says my work is shoddy, so I'm back to editing AFDOC with a carving instead of a paring knife. Here's to removing those slabs of fat before sending the prime rib to an agent. This carving set from the 50s has Bakelite handles. And yes I know I switched metaphors.

May you all have a Blessed Easter. Mahala

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