Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Nothing doing

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Blame it on the rain.

Or the editing.

Or the fact that I’m not allowed to blog about my dad (which really is a crying shame, because I have got some delightful, whimsical anecdotes I could share. At least in my opinion. He may not find them quite as delightful or whimsical or anecdotal as I do, which is why the general embargo is imposed with respect to utilizing him or any of my loved ones as blog fodder. I just don’t go there, no matter how hilarious or  absurd or humiliating it might be…)

Thus, my principles firmly in place, there isn’t much to report.

Me. On a day warmer than today. A day like yesterday. Which today is not.

I am currently sitting in a Panera Bread in Chevy Chase, Maryland enjoying a vanilla latte and a sesame bagel sandwich while my beloved friend teaches a class that I think started out as English lessons but has become a discussion of American cultural oddities like monster truck drives, plastic surgery obsessed reality TV “stars”, and hoarding.

Maybe I should have gone and listened in on that?

Instead, I’m eavesdropping in on these blowhards at the table adjacent to me planning (what I have extrapolated is) a radio news show. I haven’t been able to determine the station, but fortunately I don’t live here, so avoiding it shouldn’t be too difficult.

Some of the highlights:

“You are wrong. That idea is idiotic. It’s total bullshit.”

(The one guy doesn’t say much, but when he does, it’s incredibly rude.)

“What is this show ‘Lost’ really about? What is the deal with Jake? Why doesn’t that one guy have a name, but he can smoke cigars? What’s his name, Cigar? Hahaha!!! Seriously, can we find an ersatz scholar to discuss all this on the show?”

“Ann Coulter will play. I guarantee it. In fact, it might be interesting to have her come in and talk about moss.”

“Every segment I will tease. That will be my goal in life. I’ll spend half the show teasing. It’s all about the teasing. Teasing is what I must do.”

I wholeheartedly agree. Teasing is what we all must do. That and talk about moss. And Lost. Although I’ve never seen a single episode of Lost, so I probably wouldn’t qualify as the ersatz scholar they’re looking for. Want to talk about Project Runway or True Blood, however…and let’s talk pay rate.

Perhaps this break from editing to listen in on this nonsense will come to be recalled as time well spent?

We’ll see how my new, stolen lost moss teasing programming goes over and judge then, shall we?

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Not dead. Just editing.

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Which in some cultures is the same thing as being dead.

Or at least it should be.

If I had my own culture, my little euphemism for time spent editing would be, “a series of small deaths.”

As in “Vanessa has not been blogging as she has been undergoing a series of small deaths with Zion.”

However, as we’ve all been told, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Or, in my own greatly preferred version (courtesy of Marilyn Manson): Whatever doesn’t kill you is gonna leave a scar.

Mexican Taco Stand Menu

Me when things were warm and sunny, which was not - by any stretch of the imagination - in the last few weeks.

Either way.

Presuming I survive and come up for air soon, I’ll be back before you know it.

As always.

Pinky swear.

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A non-whining post about editing

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Just for novelty’s sake, I thought I’d drop in and log a quick update that – after reading and editing the thing one more time, no doubt - I’ll be ready to turn over the first quarter of the book to my readers tomorrow. To my own shock and awe, I’m happy with it AND the last few days have gone well.

That’s right: Editing has NOT sucked!!!

I’m finally starting to get into some material that isn’t a discombobulated train wreck, and thanks to spontaneous faux interviews with both Larry King and Bill Maher, I’m feeling kind of pumped up. And now if Bill Maher starts the interview by stating that he knows I’ve written a best-selling book, but I’m also really hot, I won’t be stupid-shocked and say, “He wouldn’t say that. He wouldn’t say that. He would not say that…” five times while my head spins and drool pours out of the corner of my mouth.

Not at all. In fact, I’ve been convinced that he very well could say that, and I will have a snappy comeback prepared.

Meanwhile, I saw that the new Nobel Prize for Literature winner has been announced, and I’m thinking that $1.5 million (SEK 10 million) would look mighty fine in my bank account. Or cashed out and dumped all over my bed where I can roll around on it naked.

Either way.

Thus, it’s important that I don’t get too famous, because the Nobel prize for literature only ever goes to anarcho-syndicalist playwrights who survived a pogrom or a pamphleteer from Moldova or something like that. The rule is that it will not go to anyone you have ever heard of. However, depending upon how insecure and/or pompous you are, you might pretend you have after he or she wins. The winner must be alive, per Nobel rules, at the time of the nomination, so hopefully I can hang onto until at least 2011 or 2012 (when we’re all outta here anyway).

So I just need to maintain obscurity (probably about as easy as it sounds) and stay alive. Add to that the possibility of using my grandmother’s maiden name (Takach) as a pen name, thereby tapping into the suffering Eastern European pity vote, and digging up some depressed poetry from my teen years, and and I could really be onto something.

In addition, there is the now-famous assertion (if you have any interest in anything literary, that is. If not, your general reaction will probably be something like “Huh?” in reference to my suggestion that this was a well-publicized gaffe) made by the previous permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy (the dudes that vote for the Nobel prizes), Horace Engdahl. So anyway, Horace pissed some people off when he said last year that “Europe still is the centre of the literary world” and the quality of American writing was dragged down because authors were “too sensitive to trends in their own mass culture”.

In response, and as a ray of hope for my own nomination:  There are exactly no vampires in my book.

Not even one.

Oh, and that reminds me, in the spirit of laziness slash “I just spent nine solid hours editing and then worked out my guns for an hour and prepared a gourmet dinner. What have YOU done today?” here is this awesome (if not slightly harsh) list courtesy of Alan Mott of  There’s so much to love here, but I think #29 is my very favorite. That or #42.

#38 cuts a little close to the bone.

And #40 – RRSW, Did you write that? I’d recognize your work anywhere…

50 Reasons No One Wants to Publish Your First Book

1. Being innovative doesn’t justify writing a Civil War epic entirely in texting slang and emoticons: “ts u hor! i dnt gv dam :< !”

2. There’s this thing called punctuation. You might want to look into it.

3. They’re afraid your author’s photo is going to alienate readers. That’s right, dude: You’re too ugly for literature.

4. Where are the vampires?

5. No, seriously, where are the vampires?

6. The world isn’t quite ready for an illustrated children’s book called SOME MOMMIES ARE INTERNET PORNSTARS: “Mommy and Daddy’s door is always locked and your online access is completely blocked! You asked them why and they say, ‘Don’t worry, honey, we’ve just found a fun new way to earn some money!’”

7. It probably wasn’t a good idea to base the main character on yourself, considering how much most people seem to hate you.

8. The market for IRON CHEF slash fiction isn’t quite as broad as you may have assumed: “’Oh, Morimoto,’ Chef Batali sighed, ’stuff me like a pepper!’”

9. Submitting a manuscript handwritten in your own blood does indicate your passion for the material, but not quite in the way you might have hoped.

10. They liked it better when it was called Jane Eyre and didn’t suck.

11. Iambic pentameter? Really?

12. Funnily enough, a detailed diary of five years’ worth of bowel movements has already been done. Curse you, Kevin Smith!

13. If you’re going to try and sell it on OPRAH as a memoir, you probably want to cut the chapter where you go back in time, kill Hitler and make Stalin admit that he’s your bitch.

14. William Burroughs was a broken-down beatnik junkie genius; you’re a wannabe-hipster asshole imitating a broken-down beatnik junkie genius.

15. It’s not technically a novel until you’ve written it down first.

16. Yes, enclosing a bag of flour along with your manuscript and causing an anthrax scare will get people’s attention, but it’s the wrong kind of attention.

17. You’re not just being paranoid; there really is a vast corporate conspiracy to ensure that your revolutionary ideas never leave your parents’ basement.

18. They can’t quite understand why you felt compelled to write such nasty things about Kenny Loggins in what is otherwise a fairly standard legal thriller. Kenny knows, but to everyone else, it comes across as somewhat mean and arbitrary.

19. Most good books aren’t created with the sole hope that they might someday be adapted into a Martin Lawrence movie.

20. You’re actually the 139th person to submit a conspiracy thriller involving the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, entitled THE MICHAELANGELO CIPHER.

21. And the 78th to submit a chick-lit manuscript about an attractive woman’s sweet tooth and affection for footwear, called CHOCOLATE AND SHOES.

22. You know the part where the protagonist stuffs those puppies into the wood chipper? It’s not quite as funny as you seem to think.

23. Truthfully, THE EVANGELICAL GUIDE TO GAY SEX is actually a great idea. The problem is that its target audience won’t want to buy it in a bookstore, and they’ll be highly reluctant to use their own credit cards to buy it online.

24. The alternative-history genre has lost its appeal. Everyone knows it doesn’t matter what else would have happened if the South won the Civil War and the Nazis won WWII: George W. Bush would stillhave been elected president.

25. A young-adult novel set in the behind-the-scenes world of network reality television featuring over two dozen characters, graphic underage sex and dead prostitutes? Are you fucking kidding me? No, seriously, are you fucking kidding me?

26. Remember the shit Salman Rushdie had to deal with after he wrote THE SATANIC VERSES? Chances are your XXX hip-hop reworking of the Koran — MO’ MONEY, MO’ PUSSY — is probably going to inspire the same reaction.

27. You know the talented creative writing professor who told you your work showed so much creativity and promise? Turns out what he really meant was that he wanted you to blow him.

28. Because they threw away their annual budget on the new Lindsay Lohan autobiography, BOOKS ARE RETARDED.

29. Everyone who attempts to load a copy of the manuscript onto their Kindle is found dead three hours later.

30. Four years ago, you wrote a post on your blog about how MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE sucks ass. Stephen King found it during a Google search and exerted his influence to ensure you never get paid a cent for your writing ever again.

31. There’s a fine line between writing authentic regional dialogue and making all of your characters sound like stroke victims.

32. Just be thankful they refused to publish it, since the common accepted response to a novel that ends with the protagonist realizing all the terrible things that happened were in a dream (or was it?) is some stern re-editing of your face with a pair of brass knuckles.

33. Writing a book about vegetarian zombies kinda indicates you don’t exactly know why people like zombies in the first place.

34. Calling your book OPRAH WINFREY IS A BIG FAT CUNT pretty much guarantees she isn’t going to select it for her book club.

35. Sure, you’re an amazing poet, but you aren’t a hot blonde pop singer with big tits, so who really gives a fuck?

36. God may have told you to write this book, but he didn’t tell you how to give it a decent ending.

37. You may want to revise the query letter you’re sending to agents so it’s more about the book and less about how much you love kittens.

38. For the first 20 pages, everyone who reads it is certain it’s the funniest book they’ve ever read. Unfortunately by the 21st, they finally realize you’re actually being serious.

39. Do you honestly not see the crucial flaw in writing a book intended for commercial sale that argues against copyright law and in favor of free unrestricted distribution of all forms of media?

40. It’s never a good sign when a manuscript’s first sentence is “’Are luck’s run out,’ said the Princess, ‘there unicorns are to fast!’”

41. When writing erotica, you want to avoid graphic descriptions of acne, cellulite and back fat.

42. Life-affirming poetry written by a 10-year-old with a fatal disease is inspirational; that same poetry written by a 47-year-old housewife with a trick knee and occasional indigestion is really, really lame.

43. Writing a 97,236-word thesis arguing the inherent superiority of Wolverine over Batman is intrinsically flawed since no intelligent person could ever take it seriously. I mean, c’mon, Batman would kick that midget Canuck’s ass every single time!

44. If you’re going to make your main character a forensic coroner, you’re obligated to know more about human anatomy than what you learned playing Operation as a kid.

45. A general rule to follow when writing for kids: If you could go to jail for saying it to them in person, you’re better off not putting it into print.

46. Historically, books written solely to settle a bar bet seldom make it to print, especially if they were written during a seven-and-a-half-hour period in the same bar where the bet was made.

47. The entire point of your book has already been more satisfactorily made in a single strip of Family Circus.

48. Because the printed medium is a dying art, and it would be a tragic waste to allow its last pathetic gasp be polluted by your bullshit.

49. Does anybody really need the complete lyrics to “One Million Bottles of Beer on the Wall”?

50. Again, I ask one last time, where are the freaking vampires?

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All edit and no play make Vanessa go crazy

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

I’m losing it.

I’m starting to think that I am the caretaker. I’ve always been the caretaker. Grady ought to know. He’s always been here.

Okay. Maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.

Early in the day. Not happy, but not yet crazy.

Early in the day. Not happy, but not yet crazy.

I’m tired, and I’m sick of editing, but I can see now that it is soooo necessary (seriously. The delete key is wearing out in some instances) and thus (hopefully) worth it.

In other words, now I know why I was avoiding this: It’s hard friggin’ work, and not particularly fun.

Meanwhile, since it feels like pretty much all I do is read my own writing and tweak and hone and re-craft every paragraph, sentence, word, and syllable, my brain has decided to use the much-needed downtime otherwise known as ‘sleep’ to torture me with wacko dreams.

Maybe it’s trying to entertain me or something?

I may have told you this already, but I actually had this idea to start a blog where I recorded my dreams so that other like-minded dorks could come and comment or do the same, and I even bought the domain name…but then I remembered I’m too dumb to figure out how to host that blog on the same server this one is on (even though my service contract clearly states I can host up to ten. They just don’t tell me how.) So, seeing as I’m clueless, I suppose you’re just going to have to put up with my dreams here.

And if you don’t like that, then too bad.

I’ve been editing all day, and I’m in no mood for your guff. I eat three of you for breakfast. So put a sock in it…and enjoy!

I call this one “A lot of stuff flying overhead, and none of it is good.”

So I was in this really nice, large, modern house, and it had a section that was like a high-end atrium. The entire wall was windows, as well as a significant portion of the ceiling, and it was attached to the main part of the house. I was standing between the kitchen and the atrium area when a hawk came flying down the stairs and toward the windows.

There were some other people there and we were all kind of alarmed by this, and I ended up running to one of the wall windows and cranking the top of it open so that the bird could wriggle out. It made it outside, and I quickly closed the window back up.

I turned around to marvel at what had just happened with the other people, when there was a terrible racket. I looked up and at least a dozen huge birds of different varieties were banging on the ceiling glass. There was another hawk – a huge one this time – and something that looked like a vulture, as well as a pelican and god knows what else, all banging on and swooping toward the glass.

It startled me, and I ran from the room. Then, just as quickly as they arrived, the birds flew away. I went to my computer and Googled a few inquiries like “Hawks in house” and “Why hawks in house” and “House swarmed with birds.” I found some stuff about birds getting in the house, and also a bunch of links to the military and different operations and things like that. I ignored those.

A few minutes later, there was a loud roar, and I looked out the overhead windows to see hundreds of planes flying together and in an extremely close formation and quite low. It looked like they were only a few hundred feet over the house.

When's the last time you saw a gold-plated TIE fighter overhead? That's what I thought.

When's the last time you saw a gold-plated TIE fighter overhead? That's what I thought.

In addition to your standard fighter planes and some larger jets, there were six or seven stealth bombers and at least a dozen gold-colored  Star Wars starfighters (I know, stupid right?).

It was completely crazy, and I yelled for everyone to come and see this. The planes just kept coming and coming and I got my camera and took several pictures, particularly of the starfighters.

A little while later, we all went to bed. I don’t know how long I’d been asleep when there was a disturbance in the hall. I came out into the hallway and seven or eight military officers were standing there. Two men came and cornered me into a hall bathroom and pulled out a weird gadget that they placed over my eyes.

When they turned it on, I could see all this bizarre and haphazard stuff like military plans and charts and all sorts of haphazard words, and then behind that was a scene of a man walking down the suburban street with lots of green grassy yards. Across the bottom of the screen was a bar that had started out orange and was getting redder and redder.

I realized I needed to calm down, and forced myself to open my eyes wider, relax, and breathe deeply. Slowly, the bar descended back to yellow and then became greener and greener. One of the men said something about “You did that just in time.”

It suddenly occurred to me that failing that test would be a bad thing. At the same time I realized I wasn’t wearing any pants…or underwear, just a tank top. I was slightly horrified and excused myself, and they allowed me to run and grab some shorts.

When I came back out, they led me to the couch where they were questioning all of us. I kept turning to the other people and whispering, “Did you do something? Why is this happening!?”

Although I knew I hadn’t done anything wrong (intentionally), I had an instinct that the Google searches I had done had somehow triggered all those planes. I asked one of the military men if that had been them flying overhead, and he said it had. I could only figure it had something to do with the word ‘hawk.’

They quizzed us for a while, and then took every electronic device we had – including my cell phone, camera (there went my gold TIE fighter shots. Darn it!), and my computer. I was pretty stressed about that, especially when they headed out the door with all of it and informed me it could be months before I got any of it back.

On the upside…no more editing!!!  ;)

Thoughts? Insights? Alarm and concern for my mental health?

In conclusion, and in unrelated news, I think I might be Facebook friends with a Catholic priest.

After six or seven grueling hours..

After six or seven grueling hours..

He’s actually an old childhood friend and my first big crush (in second grade at Catholic school. I was ready to maim anyone on the playground who even thought about holding his hand or any such thing. He was the best drawer in the class – besides me – AND he had a newborn baby sister. That’s attractive stuff. What can I say?)

Anyway, every day he posts status updates like the following (copy/pasted):

Jesus, You’ve captured my heart, and Im not letting go

Jesus, help me to take a stand against temptation

Jesus, pour out your mercy over our hearts

Jesus, there is freedom in your name

Today – without thinking it through – my status update (via Twitter) was:

Saw this headline: “KoRn Guitarist Gets Jesus Tattoo To Stop Himself From Masturbating.” Good luck, pal. My Moses tattoo did not work at all.

I figure it’s a matter of hours before I’m ‘unfriended.’

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