A new poem. It’s been ages since I wrote one.
“What a little part of a person’s life are his acts and his words!” he offers at one point. “His real life is in his head and is known to none but himself…” If this internal monologue were to be written, he suggests, prefiguring Leopold Bloom by 20 years, “every day would make a book of eighty thousand words, three hundred and sixty-five books a year. Biographies are but the clothes and buttons of a man – the biography of the man himself cannot be written…”
You should all be very very VERY glad that I don’t spew it all out every day. I think, despite my father’s glum misgivings on the subject, I’m the very soul of discretion … at least sometimes.
Please, imaginary friends, get OUT OF MY HEAD. My most recent fanfic style scene has a water demon (Pegaiai, Peg for short) climbing out of a toilet to get close to the boy she fancies. Hot chicks climbing out of toilets is the opposite of sextyime. Especially when you’ve just finished using the toilet for one of its intended purposes.
Griff makes a great recovery though. He offers her a spare toothbrush and a shower. Griff, so’s you know, is a great big horndog.
Mario sends me this.
The article from the Guardian is entitled “The Lost Art of Editing”.
My response to it is multi.
1. For different writers, different levels of editing. For the writers I know personally, they either have an editor whom they trust at their publishing house (the best selling writer of upscale bodice rippers, who lives in Victoria), a series of friends whose OCD and general fannishness will sniff out discrepancies (a writer based in SF who writes fluid drenched contemporary fantasy) or nothing but himself, as he has been self published since he stood at the corner of Yonge and College with signs around his neck reading, for example, “Mutant Stories for Complete Idiots”. Yes, I speak of Jo Beverley, Seanan McGuire and Crad Kilodney (fuck me, but I’d LOVE to see a writing panel with those three on it, it would kick ass although it might make Crad look bad as he always was a very politically incorrect dude and I know from personal experience that Seanan is powerfully smart and her ripostes emerge letter perfect at lightning speed. Jo is a Good Person (one of the Dunnettfolk) who’s invested heavily in learning about various historical periods and has made herself very approachable to her fans.)
Different writers need different levels of editing. Good writers have been ignored, and feted, and ignored and persecuted and then feted after they are dead since always, and bad writers have been celebrated and feted and then consigned to the great ashcan in the sky, since we started pressing wooden letters into clay tablets. “Damnit! Is Inanna spelled with two ‘n’s or three?” Some need editing for content, some for style, some for grammar, some for plagiarism, some for plot, some should be edited out of existence, and some SHOULDN’T BE EDITED AT ALL. Small children shouldn’t be edited at all unless it’s for school. There are some occasions which call for no editing, like rap battles and poetry slamming and “I will now depart from my previously prepared remarks” and ‘the dozens’ because the writing is still ‘in the air’ and hasn’t been committed to paper. You can say that’s not writing and really another art form, but to me the only difference is that it hasn’t been written down; it’s still communication, still words.
Which audience are you writing for and why? My blog posts are full of typos. When I catch them and they are funny, I let them stand. When they are really bad, my readers force me to correct them. I suppose I could publish everything I’ve printed on my blog so far (there are publishers that make it easy to do that and it would be fun and tragic and revealing to interpolate later interpretations of events) and make those necessary corrections. But as I say in my ABOUT page, the blog is for me and my mother. Other people have used it. My father is appalled by my lack of modesty. Nah, appalled isn’t the right word. I think perplexed and troubled is kinder and more accurate. My mother is entertained, when she isn’t troubled (by her graciously acknowledged inability to understand just what the hell it is I’m on about) and perplexed (by cultural references that she couldn’t catch even if she had the Urban Dictionary, TVtropes.com and Wikipedia wired into a head’s up display on her glasses).
2. For different audiences, different purposes in editing. You don’t over edit some kinds of writing because the immediacy and urgency of it are lost in the process. You edit the living shit out of user guides until somebody with a grade 8 education in the language you are writing in can understand what you’re doing. Note to editors. Number the fucking pages of your manuals, you jackassii. Jeff and I had an interesting conversation on that line earlier this week.
3. For different market categories, different levels of editing. I think it’s more useful to divide all fiction writing into four categories. Schlock, schlock with pretensions, literature and juvenilia. (Non fiction categories: Manuals, Advertising, Propaganda, History, Science, Science with Pretensions, Transcripts of court documents, Diaries/Op-eds/commentary/blogs/tweets/reviews, How-tos, Lists and Self-help books). Porn falls between fiction and non fiction, in my view. (In the words of the Immortal Gord Downey:
"How do I explain this, how do I put it into words, It's one thing or another but it's neither this nor that")
Nearly everything I’ve ever written has been juvenilia and schlock with pretensions – even the homilies, especially the blog. I spare only the songs and the poetry because of their emotional concision and broad applicability. Helluva thing to say, but that’s how I feel. How do I know? because I READ and I CARE. Were I to actually work on another novel… which would be schlock with pretensions, since I simply don’t have a Work of Literature in me … and my mother was up for the job, I’d let her edit it because the woman is in her own quiet way a geeeeenius.
Literature is writing that irrespective of the era, gender or class of the person writing and the person reading speaks to and clearly describes some aspect of the human condition in a recognizable, non-reproducible and human voice.
That I have an extremely vivid and sophomoric writing style is no secret – but I am very much addressing my own era, class and gender when I write and I’m not thinking that’s a problem, just how it is.
Literature’s the only class of fiction writing where editing matters. Everything else is temporary; to hold my writing to the standard of Marcus Aurelius, or the writing of Marcus Aurelius to the standard of 50 Cent’s tweets, is a classic category concept error. Good writers will find good editors, always. The downfall of language and writing is grossly overrated. Writing will get better, always, because the best will always be getting better; fewer subjects will be off limits, and science will continue to inflect and bend writing into forms more beautiful, more recondite and more authentic. Worry not folks.
Thus endeth my comments.
Russell Hoban talks about writing Riddley Walker.
Quhat being Scots dialect for What.
The night before I didn’t contact the volunteers. I was SO anxious and phobic that I literally could not pick up the phone. (Most of the time I’m not affected by anxiety to that extent but making phone calls is really hard for me, and I’m trying to work out why.) I realized that I was a wreck and went to bed. I got up at 4:30 am, picked out and edited the poem I read for the children’s story, printed it, edited the homily a couple of times more for clarity and accuracy and printed it, went through the undifferentiated piles of emails that are the complete mess that is cooperative ministry right now and found to my surprise that I did in fact know who all the volunteers were (amusingly, Paul was supposed to do set up this weekend but he left town… Luc covered him) and they were all sober and reliable people who of course all showed up. So my list of cooperative ministry (the volunteers who bop about the church and make things happen on Sunday morning, from the extremely amazing Sally (aesthetics) to the extremely amazing Laura (coffee) was actually accurate!
I even put in all the announcements that Rev Katie emailed me, AND put in a different graphic for the front cover AND got the order of service printed all by about 7:30. Then I packed everything up, had a shower, and realizing I had a WHOLE HOUR before I had to get to church, so I did the sensible thing and made Jeff waffles for brekky.
Saw Margot crawl into the garden plot and flatten herself to the ground to become ‘invisible’ waiting for the juncos to come back through the quinoa. Sorry kiddo… you ARE NOT invisible.
Went to church under overcast skies – I was the first person there so there’s that great feeling of unlocking all the doors and turning on all the lights
It’s time to play the music
It’s time to light the lights
It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight.
That kind of feeling, and then getting out the mats for the kids to sit on and helping set up the table for the altar and hauling out the podium and consulting with various folks, and watching as Sandy hauled out the enormous cart Tom made for the sound system. (Brief aside – we have hard of hearing folks in the congregation so we have a bunch of wireless headsets for amplification and all that stuff is in the cart, along with the board and the cabling etc etc.) Then the greeter’s table is set up, and then parents come in to set up the kids (the older kids were off at a Catholic mass). And just greeting people…. and then Tom and Peggy and Marnie show up, and music starts happening (12 string, stand up bass and piano). Getting asked, once again, why it is I don’t consider ministry…. what am I supposed to say? God told me not to? I do not have a vocation, peeps! When you get the call it’s unmistakable. The only time I get a call that’s unmistakable it always ends badly, with me yelling “You freaking telemarketers, how did you get this number?!” I’ll tell you why I’m not a minister…. because I read the behavioural standards that I would be expected to adhere to, like not sleeping with parishioners and ceasing to be nude in public on occasion and being somewhat less vivid and colloquial and vehement in my speech. And don’t get me started on the drugs and alcohol stuff, it’s just unconscionable. I’m also, not to put too fine a point on it, making the same amount of money as our current minister, who is 13 years out of school. Ayuh.
Then it all started and it went very well. I made the aside about being asked about which version of the Bible I was using for the verse and answering “Sheesh, Mom, what difference does it make to an atheist?” which got a huge laugh. I have a lot of people to email the homily to.
I remember gazing at the congregation during the meditation and seeing Erin shifting her little one around trying to get her to latch, and passing my eye over all the mothers in the congregation and they (and a few of the men, truth be told) were all grinning. They knew the feeling… after the service I went up to Erin with a mock look of distaste on my face and said, “Baby did NOT get memo about staying quiet during meditation!!!” and all the women clustered ’round her cracked up and chided me, and that’s when I told Erin how many people were smiling with their eyes closed as they heard the baby – I think she was pleased.
Delivering the homily and feeling comfortable enough to wander around the stage instead of staying glued to the podium like I have always done previously, remembering to look up often enough to connect with folks. It was easily the most attentive group evar….
Having all the handouts disappear. Anne in particular liked Carl Sagan’s baloney detection kit; somebody else, can’t remember who, saying that the little List of Cognitive Biases would make for an amazing conversation starter at Thanksgiving dinner.
Bringing strawberry twizzlers for snacks, and helping myself.
Talking, talking, to lots of people afterwards. Giving Carol a lift home in that magical fall sunshine that feels like summer filtered though dreams.
Blowing through the door like a hurricane and frying up the pork and onions for the stuffing, firing up the oven, stuffing the turkey, draping it with four pieces of thick cut bacon, jamming it in the oven, and ignoring it for about four hours. Katie calling to ask me if I’d forgotten anything and then showing up with cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie and whipped cream. (She called ahead and offered! I am not a failure as a parent! subtext). I then hauled the bird out once and basted it and put it back in while Katie and I made veg. Falling asleep on the upstairs sofa and awakening to see that Mike and Rozo had arrived, which triggered another round of Holy Crap, Must Feed People.
Final dinner arrangement;
Me Jeff Katie Mike Rozo:
Turkey with pork, onion, apple, brown bread, sage and garlic stuffing; hubbard squash drizzled with maple syrup, black pepper, garlic and allspice, boiled carrots, mashed potatoes, dripping gravy, green salad and dun tot (egg tarts from Anna’s Bakery OMG provided by Mike & Rozo) for dessert.
I came upstairs and both of the cats were on the dining room table. Margot was inspecting the last of the gravy…. Eddie looked hideously guilty and was licking his chops rather inelegantly (his tongue was out an inch) but Katie couldn’t find anything missing. Eddie’s expression made me howl with laughter.
I then bopped over to Planet Bachelor with Katie in tow (didn’t feel like going over there by myself) fed Kira who was most happy to see us, and then came back, watched some tube with the folks, and then announced around nine-thirty that I’d had a most excellent but also most lengthy day and I was going to have to say my goodnights. Katie slept over and now I’m going to get up and make her a breakfast that will be awesome.
And that was my very long, very happy making, most excellently wonderful Turkey Day.
Today I plan to drink beer and wash clothes. There IS nothing else on my to do list that I will do today. Well, actually, if I want to keep things copacetic with Jeff I should clean the kitchen and run the dishwasher. It’s pretty thick in there.
Oh, I lie. After breakfast I have to run to the bank and get some money. I think I may be buying a guitar today.
Heron Woman does it again. I do nothing for days and then explode into non stop action. It is my way.
And that means, every once in a while, he sends me some news.
His latest news is that he has rewritten every one of Shakespeare’s plays in easy to understand language. It’s actually called Shakespeare for White Trash. The one I picked to start reading is Richard III. When I got to the line, “We’re not trying to bust your balls, Brakenbury,” I just about lost it.
I got about another two paragraphs before I cracked up again. I’m looking forward to the whole thing.