The Pyrenees---Southern France

The Pyrenees---Southern France

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Deaf to All Except Those With a Deft Touch

         We were talking about this (how we love a delicate touch) at our writing critique meeting this past Wednesday. (You know, after roll call...after the minutes from the last meeting were read aloud...after issues from the floor were discussed...after they tried to force me into an Ellipsis Intervention group...)

          What's that, you ask? Am I speaking of how much I would appreciate Viggo Mortensen's gentle touch? No. Not at this moment. (But now that you mention it...) Right now, my appreciation is being heaped onto editors who know their boundaries.

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          So far, I've been lucky enough to work with only a handful of editors, and they've been  extremely respectful of territorial lines. Where does my voice end and theirs begin in the editing process? I have a unique style/rhythm/strange set of idiosyncrasies  to my writing. There might be editors who--when they edit my work--might unwittingly infuse my writing with their voice. It might be when a bit of punctuation is changed, a different phrase is added, or the format of the story is altered.

         Lately, I've worked with two great editors---Dahlynn McKowen and Pat Nelson. Their suggestions have improved my pieces and the changes are done seamlessly. In my mind, that's one sign of a great editor.

         What editor have you worked with recently that you'd like to highlight as you pile on the praise? Come on. I know there are lots of stories to tell...

Goldens and Medals and Dreams, Oh My!

           Yesterday I took a personal day off work (something I've only done one other time in the last 13 years of working for my school district). It was the Golden Retriever Club National Specialty (AKA the national Golden thingy), and yesterday they hosted the "Rescue Parade." Fifty rescued Goldens were being highlighted, and our Foley was one of them.

           I was prepared for the variety of Goldens. Some were small, some were lanky, some had a big head (one was brain-damaged) and one even had a missing leg. I was prepared for all the swirls of golden-colored dog hair whirling around the floor of Purina. (Purina's clean-up crew probably worked overtime each evening; many sweaters could be knit with the hair that was shed.) What I was not prepared for was my emotional response.

         Seeing the people who came specifically to view the rescue parade--they cheered and clapped and thanked us individually for what we did--was heartwarming. The event began with a bagpiper, then each dog's story was read as the dog was paraded around the ring. Each dog received a medal that was placed around its neck--hung from a plaid ribbon--and the bagpiper finished up the parade.

        We waited in line before we got our cue. We waited until the real champions' events broke for lunch. And we all looked up and down the row of dogs who were loved and cherished and cared for. But not one of these canines would ever win a ribbon in this kind of competition.

          One of us made the comment, "We each have a #1 dog." Someone else replied, "And to think they're all 'throw away' dogs." He was right. Every one of those dogs had been discarded by someone...left for dead...abandoned.

         What accomplishment or steadfastly-held dream are you proud of these days? Or What kind of competition would your dog or cat win? (Foley would win the couch potato trophy, for sure!) Or How does your past (as a writer, an artist, a human) impact your future?

Sunday, September 2, 2012

No Way---This is Not Your Mother's Book

         When our son went off to college, I was scared. Scared that no one would be there, standing over his bed and uttering the magic word ("Bacon!") or holding a cup of ice water over him...because if one of those things wouldn't be happening, my son wouldn't be getting up in time for his classes...

This is The Boy. We thought he'd never make it through Drury, but he did...with honors.

         When my daughter's slow-pitch softball team was short a player, I was happy to fill in as catcher. The pitches came over the plate slow as molasses. It would be a cinch. And then, while the players on Virginia's team were infield, I could "play" with my granddaughter. But then I got the awful news: since I was catcher, I had to also bat. And I am famous for being unable to hit anything smaller than the side of a barn. The result was embarrassing for me, and hilarious for everyone at the park that evening...

         Our son got so many tattoos while he was in college, when I counted them, I ran out of fingers on one hand and was working on the fingers on the other one. My husband and I begged him to stop until the frontal lobe of his brain finished forming...then he could make a mature, informed decision. But then he had the idea of getting a tattoo of his parents--a portrait of us--to honor us. Yikes! 

         When I was pregnant at 19 with my daughter--my first--I swore this would be my one and only child, so I was not interested in investing in lots of money for maternity clothes. I wore my husband's jeans--unzipped--leaving my huge Shamu-stomach covered by the long smock-style maternity tops of the era . (Hey, it was the 70's.) And I borrowed a pair of double-knit burgundy-colored maternity pants for "nice occasions. I wore those reddish pants so much, I just knew that right after I gave birth, I would be able to slip into my regular clothes and I could burn that polyester monster in celebration. But would I be able to see them go up in flames immediately after I delivered my after-birth? 

       These are all stories that I have submitted or stories I'm finishing up to submit to the Not Your Mother's Book series. Pat Nelson is looking for a few more stories about parenting and grandparenting. (But hurry. She almost has her anthology filled.) Linda O'Connell is looking for more stories about families. And Dianna Graveman is on the hunt for more tales about being a mom and being a mom-to-be.

         Think edgy. Think snarky. Think twisted with huge dollops of funny. And think about submitting. Quickly.