Line edit in progress

I’m typing this from my back porch on a sunny Saturday afternoon, looking out over my garden off too many things (I had modest plans this year, and then people started asking if I wanted things, and… now I have raised beds that already have a crop of radishes I need to finish harvesting, and a fig tree that is thriving in its pot, and… even with a couple failures, it’s almost more than I can handle! I still don’t know where to put the watermelon, but I’ll figure it out.)

In front of me is the printed-out first draft of Dust of the Ocean because I can see some things more clearly when I change font and format, a large cup of tea, and a magenta pen. I have an old favourite trance album playing (Chicane – Far From The Maddening Crowds) to provide something for my ears to focus on instead of the neighbor’s chickens or the dog that keeps objecting to me being in my backyard. You think she’d be hoarse after a couple hours, but nope, that pittie mix is a champion barker, and given half a chance, would try to lick me to death while battering me with her waving tail.

Why not be inside, free of the doggy distractions and the wind trying to flip my pages over? Because then I’d be surrounded by the distractions of a thousand un-done chores, and the temptations of the kitchen. This is actually easier when trying to maintain focus for small chunks of a manuscript (and small chunk of time), making sure that continuity continues, and removing awkward phrasing.

(Of course, you can tell by the fact that I’m writing this that sometimes the brain runs away and I give it a distraction to let it rest anyway.)

Also, I really like sunlight and green growing things, and as much as I’m getting highly frustrated by doing a very hard task, I’m making sure to reward myself, too. Last night, I gave myself a fire in the fireplace while I sat on the couch with tea and edited. The only reason I didn’t complete the picture with my favourite fuzzy blanket was because 17 pounds of purr was camping the fuzzy blanket, and fending off all comers.

You get more of what you reward, and less of what you punish. So why punish myself for editing? Much better to surround myself with things I like and make sure I’m taking breaks and recharging my ability to focus as often as needed.

If I don’t… well, once upon a time, several books ago, my husband made very frustrated noises at me, along the lines of “why won’t you give this an edit pass before you ask me to edit it?” He wasn’t expecting me to break down crying tears of swallowed rage and extreme frustration, but then, he hadn’t realized I’d done 12 edit passes on it already.

The next book, he got after only one edit pass, and came back with a wry smile. “I can literally see where your brain checked out, and you go from no spelling errors to at least one on each line. Stop when you’re tired, love.”

Also, we’ve now been married long enough he’s now aware that when I’m writing longhand and I’m exhausted or rushed enough, the dyslexia gets so bad it’s not much different from mirror writing and cyphers. Which can sometimes make his attempt to fulfill the grocery shopping list an adventure, but that’s a different story for a different day…

10 thoughts on “Line edit in progress

  1. I have a perfect spot for it (2nd floor porch on the log cabin with a sweeping verdant view), but I can’t wean myself from editing in-place in the digital manuscript, and it’s too hard to get good laptop screen contrast out of doors, even under a roof.

    1. For better outdoor viewing you could print to ebook format (PDF if you have big e-reader or maybe use large fonts and/or adjust page size to something small) and then use an e-reader.

      Some day I want a >10″ eReader for reading technical PDFs.

      1. I’ve got no problem putting it in a form I can read (such as ebook) — but that’s no way to write edits, and not any fun annotating, either.


        1. True, best you could do for edits probably is highlighting areas or writing notes with some of the newer readers.

  2. Grumble…at least you CAN edit your own work. I read right over my errrrrors… sigh

    1. The best quick remedy for some of that basic editing (typos, missed/duplicate words, etc.) is to change the font or font size. That puts line breaks in different places and makes it easier to notice things like duplicate words. You know what you meant to write, so you have to trick your mind into actually reading it again, instead of skimming.

  3. Ah, my favorite writing spot. In front of a fire. I shall have to try it for editing . . . late next fall. Unless the next front is even colder.

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