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Minutiae

February 20, 2012

I’m supposed to be prepping my second set of beta tonight.

Yes, that's EXACTLY how it's going.

Round one of the story was sent to Erika without even stopping to spell-check because I was so dizzy with tracking character development and falling face-first into a major new plot point of an old story.  Now that a little of the desperation has abated, my pride refuses to let me send it out without at least checking for word duplications and embarrassing homophones.

(I once got a note back–and it was a very small note–that has haunted me for years.  I remember so clearly; the line was “Another entry in Rogue Squadron’s role of the dead.”   She’d made a neat entry “roll, not role“, and I’m three-thousand percent sure she doesn’t even remember it, but I was just *mortified*.  Like, couldn’t bare it without baited breathe mortified.)*

Where has this graphic been all my life?

Anyway, I had a point, once upon a time.  Specifically, at the time a few minutes ago when I decided I should stop editing RIGHT NOW and go create a blog post (I will do almost anything to avoid serious editing), and I’m sure that if you’ll only give me a second it will come back to. . .

Oh, yeah.

There are two main reasons I dread editing.  The first has to do with re-reading my work ad infinitum, and the corresponding hatred I develop for my own voice.  Every word soon becomes a nails-on-a-chalkboard-level irritant.

The second actually kind of amuses me, in a sick, twisted, word-geek kind of way.

It's been a long weekend.

I love writing.  I love words.  And I love the way that writers, probably a little more than anyone else on the planet, can appreciate the very small shades of meaning even the tiniest words are able to infuse into a sentence.  Already tonight I’ve wavered between “a” and “the” several times.  They’re such miniscule building blocks, nearly invisible when you’re reading, but oh, the work they do.  I’m dealing with a character who has undergone extraordinary trauma (okay, maybe not so extraordinary for one of my characters . . . ), and he’s created a trick of psychology that keeps him mentally distant from pretty much everything he encounters.  As a result, I’m having to carefully monitor my own descriptions when I’m writing from his POV.  I had a reference to “his fingers”, and couldn’t figure out why it was skewing the whole para.  Made the switch to “the fingers” and the proper tone suddenly snapped into place and carried through.

This is a good thing!  This is a great thing!  I love this thing!  But, of course I end up micro-focusing to the point of paralysis, and then I do unrelated blog posts because HEY, BLOGS ARE WORDS, TOO!, so it doesn’t mean I’m slacking off or doing something like checking my email.

Speaking of . . .

Okay, back.  Nothing new.

Also, need to take a moment to give major kudos to Will Heltsley.  I found this chart when I was double-checking “homonym” vs “homophone”, because to be completely honest I didn’t pay attention to most of this stuff when it was being taught in Language Arts.  Actually, I hated Language Arts in a real and visceral way.  It fell into the category of “stuff I kind of knew how to do intuitively without wanting to learn all the stupid words and labels, and also YOU SMELL FUNNY, you mean old nasty teacher who doesn’t think I’m funny.”

Ahem.  Sorry.  Childhood trauma, bitterness, cruel and twisted educational system, etc.

I mean–great chart, Will!  I have since learned a proper appreciation of the rules (even some of the stupid ones), and a good Venn diagram is guaranteed to make me weak (geek?) at the knees.

Just please don’t ask me to diagram a sentence.  I never learned it properly, I don’t like doing it, and somehow the poor sentence always ends up with a fake moustache and some unkindly-worded dangling clauses that were totally not my fault at all.

Holy cow! This is freakin' amazing!

*Hey, some people have nightmares about showing up for school in their underwear.  I have nightmares about absent-minded word substitution.**

**Also, showing up for school in my underwear.

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2 comments

  1. Hi, Ali; I enjoyed this post. Just wanted to let you know.

    -Popgun


    • Thank you! I wish I could say it was cleverly plotted and painstakingly thought out, but (like most of my posts) I’m afraid it was mostly whatever clackety train of cogitation I was aboard at the time.



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