Friday, October 21, 2011

Greetings, Latvians!

The ways of the internet are strange and mysterious. Obsessed as I am with this blog and whether anyone is coming to visit, and if so, why, and if not, why not, you would think I would have picked up on this fact early on and be a lot calmer about it.

And I was a lot calmer. Until a few days ago, when I had 28 visitors from Latvia.

All right, for those of you with highly popular blogs that get hundreds of visitors from foreign lands traipsing through regularly, this probably wouldn’t be that big a deal. But suffice to say, on that particular day, the 28 Latvians were virtually the only people to come by.

What can I say?

Greeting Latvian blog visitors! I am absolutely delighted that you came over, but simply put, I don’t get it. I looked up your referring sites and I came up with something that appeared to be a search engine that uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and I, not reading any languages that use the Cyrillic alphabet, have no idea what you were searching for.

It could have been anything. A couple of weeks ago a visitor from the U.K. found me when he was searching for the image of a large, grey short-haired dog. Apparently my mother-in-law’s tiny brown and white Chihuahua, who appears sitting pertly on my mother-in-law’s chaise in my post #1, filled the bill. Hmmm.

But back to the Latvians. I ask, why now? And why 28 of you? Did every member of an unusually large book group dedicated to English language picture book folk tales all come looking for me simultaneously? Was it a weird coincidence that occurs with the frequency of Haley’s Comet sightings, but with less celestial inevitability? Was it some Eastern-European version of internet punking? Or was I having my 15 seconds of fame in absentia in the suburbs of Riga?

I may never know.

That is why I am posting with this simple message: Come back, Latvian blog visitors! Please. I am obsessed with you and until you tell me who you are and what in God’s name you were doing here, I will remain mystified, obsessed, and confused.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Confessions of a Mad Rewriter

I am a compulsive re-writer. If there were a twelve step program for re-writing addicts, my family would be bundling me into the car and dropping me off there in the hope I’d come to grips with my affliction.

I, on the other hand, would bolt out of there like a neat-freak bat out of a messy, messy hell. Or, more accurately, into the messy, messy hell of the post-ARC, post re-re-rewritten , post re-re-re-reread and re-re-re-re-edited, slightly dog-eared hard copy of Where It Began. With the fantasy of making it perfect before I have to push the send button on what has to be the final, final, final, final, final, final edit.

At this point, it is no longer possible to edit away deep, existential doubts. Things like: Does this book lack a moral center, jaunty pacing, and a sufficiently hot yet articulate boyfriend? And is the protagonist, whom I adore, too whiney and if so, why in God’s name didn’t I notice this before?

Too late, babe.

This is the time for what might be considered less critical flaws that can still be fixed if only I could find them all.

This is when I notice, on the seventh post-post ARC redo, that there are two minor characters named Caitlyn who appear and disappear within five pages of each other and I’d better name one of them something else. Something else perfect that doesn’t start with a “C.” Olivia or Becca? Becca or Olivia? Olivia or Becca? (There is where the twelve step could be useful.) When I realize that there is one niggling spot where Gabby refers to the messaging that’s central to the book as IM when it hasn’t been IM for several drafts. When it hits me that the word “just” is spelled with a “j.” (Don’t ask. Oh, all right, it’s because my scrawled handwriting lead S&S to believe that I insisted that it be spelled differently, and I’ve been so unreasonable about quirky details that it made sense to them that I’d do that.)

It’s not that I haven’t had the gift of a completely fabulous copy editor who found literally hundreds of places where I’d screwed up pre-ARC. She was the one who pointed out that my use of the hyphen (or rather, my failure to use the hyphen) was inconsistent with all legitimate grammar authorities on the face of the earth, and that there’s no apostrophe in “Starbucks.” Even though I had rewritten and done what I thought of as copy-editing myself, over and over, before the manuscript made its way to her desk. (And even when confronted with every grammar authority on the face of the earth, I still spent days going: Midnight blue? Midnight-blue? Midnight blue? Midnight-blue?!?!?!? )

But this is it. The time has come. And even though I haven’t yet figured out why each compulsive re-read yields yet another small but critical thing I failed to notice ever before, I have to be finished. I will no longer be able to hide behind the veil of the uncorrected proof, the mistakes don’t count, it isn’t final, and all is forgiven not-final draft.

Maybe this is therapeutic. Maybe this is premature. Maybe this is folly. Maybe the book was better before I made these final changes. Maybe I should change them back. Maybe I should find out if there are any psycho-active (note the hyphen) drugs for this kind of thing. Maybe I should just shut up and push the send button.

Here goes.