Secret, mystery, humiliation, conundrum … and partial explanation

Posted by on 18 Apr 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Fifty commas deleted yesterday morning … total left is a secret.

Listing all the sentences in a piece, each on its own line to ensure their length varies, reveals tense inconsistencies, more small mistakes. Doing so also inspires content adjustments … a mystery.

Duplication searches highlight some words inocuous enough to show up without offense in every third sentence, some appearing tolerably every few paragraphs. Other words are so self-important they need confining to once per section, even only once per manuscript. The drudgery is logical, effective, thus enjoyable. It inevitably displays, every ten or twenty pages, two identical words, each carefully chosen to be unique, in as many lines … a humiliation.

These essentials blue-pencil hours and hours … a conundrum.

Partial explanation: this morning’s three new commas.

!!!

Posted by on 10 Apr 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Exclamation points, supposedly, can be over-used. Not a problem for me. I thought. Burrowing again into pieces I considered edited revealed dozens and dozens more than I remembered. Almost all are gone now. My screen, with and then without the marks, showed me how exclamation points muffle, and replacing them with periods (full stops) frees the words’ meanings to reach the reader. I trust.

Public Reading: Tuesday, April 4, Annette Street Library, 6:15pm

Posted by on 03 Apr 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized


The Canadian Authors Association Toronto Branch will welcome members and non-members to the Toronto Public Library branch at 145 Annette Street, on Tuesday, April 4, 6:15-8:15pm. “Bring your best work, or a work in progress!” says Christopher Canniff, branch president. You may read for 3-5 minutes … if you sign up: president@canauthorstoronto.org. I’mm looking forward to reading three very short bits from the memoir I’m writing. For more info click here.

Word Duplications

Posted by on 31 Mar 2017 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

You can paste text into a webpage you can easily find online. It will return a list of your words, showing how many times you’ve used each.

Glaring goofs – clichés, pronouns with confusing antecedents, useless adverbs, the same multisyllabic bon mot twice in three lines – leave me shocked and appalled at missing them in numerous previous readthrus. Suddenly, my sweater feels too warm.

The online tool doesn’t only force scavenging for synonyms. It makes me shrink the tally of words that just shouldn’t be there at all, like ‘just’ and ‘that’. And, more often than I want to admit, sentence hunks, even whole sentences containing a dupe or two, get trashed. Sometimes repetition strengthens a story, but is usually padding.

Working through the list, deciding which words deserve attention, which are inocuous and infrequent enough to skip, is reassuring. I wish it didn’t take so long.

Editing

Posted by on 20 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Editing has somehow developed a routine for itself. Feedback from my writing group gets turned into comments marching down the right-hand side of the document. Sometimes there are so many they shrink one another and the lines to them make the marks on the page look like espaliered fruit trees. The comments wait for weeks, even months, if writing another section, or something altogether different, takes precedence. No matter how long getting to them takes, the first few words of each bring back the context, remarks others made, and my reaction at the time, which often changes when the manuscript is revisited. In fact, getting to the comments first thing the next morning has taught me that ensuring they’re thorough, then letting them ripen a while, leads to better results. I think. And hope.

Reading Sounds

Posted by on 18 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

The words of the title, reading sounds, offer many interpretation possibilities. Here, I mean rhetorical tools like onomatopoeia and parallelism. Alliteration is the one that comes so automatically, I sometimes edit it out, fearing overuse. A teaching colleague, Grant Reynolds, showed years ago how the rhythm of English can help those learning the language. Hearing the words, audible only to me as the lines grow across my screen, convinces me not to change what just appeared to the terser ‘English’s rhythm’. Yet daring to compare writing to composing music is a step that scares me.

Professional Writers Association of Canada

Posted by on 06 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Back home from the Xmas party. Met fellow member Dan Falk, who fascinated our table by explaining how he wrote “The Science of Shakespeare,” his most recent book. Wish he’d written it while I was teaching high school English! He’s giving a talk next month, Wednesday, January 11, 2017, 7pm, at the Toronto Public Library’s Leaside branch.

Chatting about our upcoming AGM and conference in Fredericton in May brought back memories of PWAC participation in MagNet conferences in Toronto. Here’s an old photo of a fine day.

MagNet, conference for magazine writers, editors, publishers: registration desk volunteers, June 3

MagNet, conference for magazine writers, editors, publishers: registration desk volunteers, June 3, 2009

Memoir Editing

Posted by on 06 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

Most important are the students. Showing fun, fear, boredom, bliss, the daily ripples and that once-in-a-lifetime massive comber, hosting readers so they can get to know the students, is the goal. The manuscript consists of twenty vignettes, each about one or more students in a high school class, and twenty pieces to fit between the vignettes. The other pieces vary: a little poetry, a couple of rants, some out-of-classroom tales, an open secret or two about grades and exams… Now that the first draft’s done, an editing priority is pushing the person telling the stories into the background as much as possible. It’s a challenge. There isn’t much overlap among the characters from chapter to chapter, with one exception, the narrator. A trick: ask who is this happening to? If the answer can only be the writer, mentioning the writer isn’t necessary.

You’ve figured out the memoir’s about teaching high school. And you’ve noticed this blogpost has no first person pronouns. Somewhat clumsy: practicing, experimenting continue. Hope you’ll keep reading as the editing generates more lessons and they’re shared.

Authors, all Toronto Heliconian Club members

Posted by on 03 Dec 2016 | Tagged as: Uncategorized

novpostcard

All publications listed are by members of the club’s literature section. The Toronto Heliconian Club, more than a century old, gathers women in the arts. Info on upcoming events is often posted outside the club, 35 Hazelton Avenue, in Toronto’s Yorkville.
works listed:
Bacchanalia: short story
My Father’s Hands: poem
Icons: article
Beyond Blood, Christmas, Cook’s Temptation, Disability Matters, Envoys, Fireflies, Hivernante, Laundry Lines, Picnic, Sounding, Stone Woman: books available for purchase online, some also in public libraries
Point of Order: book published by Toronto’s Ruskin Literary and Debating Society
Electoral System: Science for Peace lecture, link below (scroll down)
Geography, Tom Thomson’s Fine Kettle: forthcoming books

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