Super Shiny-Clean

Maybe you remember this or maybe you don’t, but my second book is due to be published by Champagne Books in February of next year. Hooray! Exciting! A ton of freaking work!

You see, I’m finding that the trouble with editing a soon-to-be-published-book is, well, editing it. Again. For maybe the umpteenth freaking time.

When my book was born, the first draft was my absolute pride and joy and the very best thing I’ve ever written. Until I dusted it off a few months later for proofreading and found that it was in dire need of some serious tweaking. I performed the tweaks and thought I was done. Then, I took some classes and realized that the entire freaking structure of the book was wrong.

After some serious deleting, slicing, dicing, rewrites, and still more proofreading, I decided it was ripe for sending out to friends and family to read. They all had suggestions and edits, so I scrutinized my manuscript yet again.

Only then did I send it out to publishers for consideration. Champagne Books liked it and referred me to an editor, who has just sent me revisions for the first half of the book.

So now I get to go through my book for the fourth or fifth time and try try try not to start hating my own writing because oh my gosh I’m so sick of reading my own stuff ahhhhhhhhh!!!

But this is the publishing world, no? The book has to be excellent and super shiny-clean to pass muster and be released into the wild. I’d just never realized how much work went into the book before it got published.

All this work just makes me eager to start a new book, though. I can’t wait to go hog wild with a sloppy first draft all full of irregularities and tense changes. Let the creativity flow and the chips fall where they may and leave the rigid days of manuscript polishing behind for just a little while!

But first, I have to finish my edits.

I can assure you that should you choose to buy my book when it comes out, it will be exceedingly polished and really easy to read.

I should know, I’ve read it myself about half a dozen times.

Teensy Little Post

I know I’m more than a decade late in coming to this conclusion, but Friends is a terrific show. I laugh out loud at every episode and it makes me happy to watch. I’m a huge fan, and it’s really too bad I can’t go back in time and announce this fact proudly to all the people who would’ve cared about it in the 90’s.

Oh well. I’m announcing it now, and I’m sure no one cares but I only had five minutes to write a blog post today and I only got five hours of sleep last night so here we are. With a teensy little post about an outdated topic.

But that’s just how I roll. Raising the bar in blog quality one post at a time.

Show, Don’t Tell, Gosh Darn It!

One of my newest pet peeves as a reader/viewer is lazy storytelling, primarily when writers tell and don’t show. I was reading a book the other day and the writer did this left and right, and you know what? It was really freaking boring.

For those of you who haven’t been to tons of classes about showing not telling, I’ll elucidate. Here’s an example of telling:

Steve was a jerk. Impatient and demanding, he had no time for anyone he didn’t have use for. Even then, he was unpleasant to work with. His colleagues had all long since given up on him demonstrating even a shred of humanity.

I mean, yes, you get a sense for who Steve is, but this doesn’t exactly make for compelling reading.

How here’s an example of showing:

“What the hell is this?” Steve asked. The white paper cup on the counter was filled to the brim with thick white foam, the top of which was dotted with flecks of nutmeg.

The chipper young barista forced a smile while she consulted the scrawl on the side of his cup. “It’s a cappuccino, sir.”

“No,” he said, knuckles whitening as he squeezed the edge of the counter, “It’s not. It’s a cappuccino with crap on top. If I’d wanted crap on top, I would’ve asked for it.” He reached for the cup. When the barista handed it to him, he emptied it onto the floor. As coffee splashed onto her shoes, he scowled and said, “Make it again. The way I ordered it.”

While the barista fought back tears and remade the drink, the next person in line stared straight ahead and pretended he was elsewhere. He reminded himself that even though he shared a cubicle with Steve, he wasn’t responsible for fixing the guy.

This isn’t a perfect example, but I hope it gets the point across. You know exactly as much about Steve in the showing example as you learned in the telling example, but it’s, in my opinion, a lot more fun to read.

I’ve seen a few example of this lazy storytelling in TV shows and in books recently, and it’s annoying me. If Show Don’t Tell is an axiom I know, then surely other writers must have access to it, too? Is it too much to ask for some fun dialogue?

Just Try It On

Have you ever seen the movie Spanglish? There’s this scene where Fleur (the protagonist) encourages a young girl to try on clothes she thought would be too small for her by saying, “Just try it on” because she secretly altered the clothes to fit the girl. When the girl tries the clothes on and discovers they’re no longer too small, a smile of pure delight crawls across her face and her surprise is heartwarming and lovely.

I was reminded of this scene on Sunday when Wes and I deliberated whether or not to take the kids out for breakfast. We’d never tried to take both kids out for a meal before, because we dislike paying tons of money for food we can’t eat because our tiny humans are crying and need soothing or discipline.

Now, Aidan’s actually really well behaved in restaurants. We’ve worked really hard to teach him how to sit patiently at the table, waiting for his food and then eating in nicely when it comes. He’s still two, so some ventures are more successful than others, but for the most part we have no concerns about taking him out for a meal.

Lily, however, is an unknown quantity. Would she sleep quietly in her carseat the whole time? Would she realize she was in her carseat halfway through the meal, remember how much she dislikes her carseat, and then start hollering? Would we even make it to our table before she started crying and needed to be shushed and soothed?

We didn’t know. We just didn’t know. Would we end up paying $40 for a relaxed family breakfast or would it end up being a $40 investment toward stress and cold food?

Finally, we just decided to go for it. We’d never know how Lily did until we tried it, so we threw shoes on most of our feet and headed to our favorite breakfast spot.

And you know what? It was great. Lily fell asleep a few minutes after we arrived, she slept the whole time, Aidan was sweet and well-behaved, and Wes and I both got to eat our meals while they were still hot. We just tried it on out, and it was great.

It got me to thinking about how we never know what we or our children are capable of until we try new things. Sometimes it goes really well, sometimes it’s a colossal failure, but it’s always illuminating. We have to make room for surprise, and in my experience the only way to do that is by trying new things.

And if this means I end up with red velvet pancakes in my belly, then so be it. I guess I’ll just have to live with that.

Restricted Movement

My biggest apprehension in being on restricted movement (no exercise other than light walking and no lifting anything heavier than ten pounds) for the six weeks following my C-section was taking both kids out shopping. After all, if I couldn’t lift Aidan into a shopping cart, what in the world was I supposed to do to keep him and his busy little fingers occupied with something other than bringing about the ruination of order in any store we ventured into?!

Not being one to let fear dictate my behavior, I decided to wing it and saddled up my trusty minivan last week to take the kids out to Target. My shopping list was long and my patience was high thanks to a good night’s sleep, so I figured it was better now than never.

It went surprisingly well. Aidan hung onto the front of the cart like a leggy little sea urchin and Lily slept through most of the trip, so I count it a success. Of course, everything went kablooey the minute we walked through the door, because it always does, but at least everybody kept their tempers in check until we got home so I still count it a win.

I find that with each week of mother-to-two-kids I survive, I grow more confident. I’m beginning to suspect that the days when I’ll feel capable of adding exercise and writing back to my daily routine are coming soon, and they will be most welcome.

Of course, it’s been so long since I exercised I doubt I’ll be able to lift any weights heavier than ten pounds anyway, but hey. It’s a good start point. And this time I’ll get to work out secure in the knowledge that I’ll never have to lose baby weight again.

That fact in and of itself is reason enough to celebrate.