Category Archives: the writing life

Red Marks are Gorgeous

Aren’t they?  Red marks all over my manuscript, or, in this case, all over chapter three of my manuscript, mean that I have something to focus on.  Let’s face it.  I’m busy.  Right now, my desk is piled high with school work to check, plus 3X5 cards with notes to myself, plus bills and other business correspondence that need to be paid or filed away.  Underneath the stacks of schoolwork, however, sit those marked-up pages of chapter three, which means that I’ll have something to immediately work on when I have a few moments to spare.  Without the red marks, I would be like a little, lost sheepling wondering what to do next and, consequently, choosing to do nothing.

Several years ago, I attended a writing workshop taught by Anya Achtenberg.  Because it wasn’t a university workshop, no grades were recorded anywhere–hence, some of the participants didn’t turn in their weekly work.  In one class, Anya handed back the story I’d turned in to her, but with red marks all over it.

The lady sitting next to me sighed wistfully and said, “I wish I had a manuscript with red marks all over it.”

To which, Anya replied, “You have to turn in work to get red marks.”

Red marks are a badge of honor, you see.  They are a badge of the hard-working writer.  If a writer doesn’t write, she isn’t going to have any beautiful, raw stories that are crying out for improvement.  If a writer isn’t brave enough to hand over those beautiful, raw stories to an editor or teacher or critique partner, she isn’t going to be seeing red.  And seeing red is a good thing.  Viewing the world only through the black and white filter of one’s own story is severely limiting.

So, although I haven’t had much time to write or post blogs, I have been able to turn my work over to my friendly neighborhood editor, who in turn gave me something to work with in those few spare moments that I have.  Being a sheepling has never suited me.  Thanks, Editor!

***Painting of Alexander Pope by Michael Dahl.  Yes, I’ll use ANY excuse to post an image of Pope.

****POST-EDITING to add this exclamation: Holy Guacamole!  I just threw chapter three into its own document in order to begin revisions and realized for the first that this chapter, the one my editor spent less than a week line-editing, is 10,000 words long!  The mind reels.


A Break to Ask Your Advice

I was kept busy all day yesterday, so I apologize for not posting a new chapter of my New Mexico Noir. If I were a more diligent person, I would have had it ready to post ahead of time. But I’m not. Actually, what I am is a busy lady with a husband, four children, family obligations to those outside my immediate family, a church family, friends. . .

Before I ask for your sage advice, dearest readers, I would like to make a comment. I find it telling that whenever I post something I find comical on my blog, nobody responds. Like this, for example. I thought this post was hilarious, but the only person who agreed with me was my dearest husband, and who knows what ulterior motives he had for calling me brilliant.

I guess it’s because my sense of humor is way out in left field. I should think of this as a warning that I’m probably not the best person to be writing humor. Still, though, I did want my reading audience to know the humor of zeugma. You see, the poem I posted last Friday was meant to be humorous. Does anybody know what zeugma is? I’ll reward you with my undying blogging devotion if you not only look up it up, but make up a good one and post it in the comments section. Oh, and no stealing from Pope. That’s not allowed. Plus, I’ll recognize it right off the bat because of my already existing undying devotion to Pope’s verses.

All right, then, onward to my begging asking nicely for advice:  Six months ago, I sent out a query to the agent who was on the top of my list of best agents to query.  I did not expect that she would request my manuscript.  Because she did, and she was my top choice, I stopped sending out queries.  I’d only sent out four, and the others came back with rejections.  Six months later, I’ve written the sequel to the book I’d queried (and, no, I didn’t know at the time that there would be a sequel.  It just came to me suddenly, and I had to write it.)  Now, I suspect that I should start querying again.

What do you think?  Should I start querying other agents?  Should I write the agent a polite e-mail telling her that I’ll be querying other agents?  What would you do?

So, send me a zeugma or some sage advice.  Either one would relieve my heart or bring me joy.


Trepanning Cures the Writing Blues

Thus far this week, I have logged 20,000 words on my current WIP.  This is neither as many as I had wanted to write, nor as few as would make me pout.  Twenty-thousand are enough, however, to cause extreme intracranial pressure, such that I long to be trepanned.  What, you ask, is trepanning?  The figure at left should give you an idea.  Yes, that’s right, it’s an ancient medical practice that involves drilling a hole in the writer’s, I mean, patient’s head in order to relieve pressure on the brain.  Ah, that sounds so pleasant.  It looks rather pleasant, too, doesn’t it?  I hear I can still get one performed in Mexico for a reasonable price.  What do you think?  Do you feel you need a trepanning after writing 20,000 odd words (and by that, I truly mean ODD words)?

Well, I think that man’s expression says it all.  Good night and God bless you all.  May God shine his light through the hole in your head.