Friday, March 21, 2014

Does This Novel Make Me Look Fat?

I went for my annual physical a while back. I’m in pretty good health, Doc said … all things considered. BP is a little high as is my cholesterol. “We’ll use meds to get that under control. Other than that you’re in great shape,” he said. “Except for your weight. You need to lose a few pounds.”

A few pounds. OK. But as many of you out there in the Blogosphere know, losing weight is easier said than done. 

I quit smoking when I turned 60, so I expected to gain some weight. But that’s about the same time I started writing for real, and, when I started writing, I also started sitting. A lot. Now I, for one, happen to consider writing an exercise since I work my brain to write. Ergo, sitting, being part of my writing process, is exercise too, but I might be the only one who thinks that way. Regardless, the issue remains; the exercise of writing involves sitting.

So I sit. And I write. But there are times when I sit and I think which is not writing and not exercise because then it’s just sitting. And when I’m sitting but not writing and not exercising, I’m munching. 

Welllll…  When I’m sitting and thinking but not writing and not exercising because it’s just sitting and munching but not drinking, I have to wash all that down with something.   
That’s why ancient scribes invented beer.

So when I sit and not write and think and not exercise and munch and wash all that stuff down with beer, I’m actually getting my daily sitting/writing exercise because I’m reaching and lifting and chewing, but still, it didn’t seem to work.

I had to get serious.

I switched to sugar substitutes, sugar-free gum, and diet soda; diet salad dressings, baked potato chips, and low-cal cookies; small bags of M&M’s, low-fat double-whipped triple-churned ice cream, and lite beer. I even cut my large double-pepperoni-and-sausage pizza intake to five a week, but still I lost no weight.

So, getting back to the doctor—remember the doctor?— Maggie says because Doc thinks I need to lose weight, and the sitting/writing exercise I get isn’t enough, she’s going to make me snacks and meals that are better for me, and will help me lose weight. And the worse part of all this, she thinks we’re going to have lots-o-fun.
“I didn’t marry you just to have you die on me now,” she told me. She’s been waiting for this like a kid waits for Christmas. She sees us going to the grocery store—hand-in-hand and all starry-eyed—picking out nothing but “healthy” food. I can’t wait.

The more wheat germ, the better, I say.

So to counter my over-weight condition, she bought all sorts of stuff to sprinkle on my food. Stuff I never heard of, like Organic Ground Premium Flaxseed with Omega-3 and Lignans.

What the hell is Flaxseed?
And Lignans sound like something you should eradicate
… like termites.

Oh, you think I’m exaggerating, do you? Here’s a text message she sent me the other day:

Morning honey ... I’m getting you Egg Beaters and low calorie low carb stuff. Low calorie bread is good. Wheat or whole grain ...Cheerios … diet soda is okay. They say in moderation, cheese is actually okay. I'll pick up more stuff as I come across them in my reading. Look at the labels. You don't want sugar in the first three ingredients and you should try to keep your carb amount not above 55 grams a day. So look at the labels.

Love you lots. Going for a run.

Going for a run.... The woman is effusive. You can almost hear the freaking excitement in her voice. I think she’s enjoying this more than sex. 

In addition to all this, the Doc gave me a list of foods I can and can’t have.
For instance:
I can have lean meats, fish packed in water, chicken without the skin (Who can eat fried chicken without the skin?), and few breads, like Melba toast. I guess the doc thinks I’m still teething, as well.

In place of bread, I can substitute beans or dried peas. So I tried that. I slapped some light mayonnaise on a couple of dried peas and tried to make a ham sandwich. It wasn’t easy because it was so hard to hold. It wasn’t very filling either, so I made another one.

What I can’t have is duck, goose, coconuts, avocados, lard and alcohol. No problem there … except for maybe—you guessed it—the alcohol.
So Maggie comes home from work one night, very tired. I offer to order Chinese, but now, I have to see if they have dietary meals. Of course, all I need do is ask.

“Ha-row, Rucky Dragon.”
“Yes, I’d like to place an order for delivery.”
“What you rike?”
“Do you have any dietary dinners?”
“Yes … low-fat”
“Ro-Fat? I’m solly, no Ro-Fat here.”
“You don’t have any low-fat dinners?”
“Ro-Fat work here no more. Rives in Okrahoma now.”
“No! No! ... Low-fat MEALS.” 
“Ro-Fat no cook. Dishwasher. Quit rast week. You want order something? Robster? Pork flied lice? Egg loll maybe?”

I decided on steamed veggies. Maggie was so happy, she poured Flaxseed all over it; made it crunchy, so I pretended it was fried chicken.

All in all, I expect things will work themselves out. Maggie is a pretty good cook, so I’m sure she’ll be able to do something with me in the next few weeks, even if it’s just rolling me out to the car for my next doctor’s appointment.


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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Where Does the Rewriting Stop?

The first draft of my second novel is finished. Now begins the search for perfection, that unattainable point where the rewriting stops.

So, where is that, exactly?

For the most part, rewriting comes before proofing, and concerns punctuation and spelling and word choice, and in the later stages, formatting, consistency, and continuity. The obvious stuff. Then there’s the part of the writing process that drives me batty; when my mind makes changes to something I have already written and moved past. This usually occurs in the early morning hours, during that space of time between being asleep and being awake, and come from that dusty corner of the mind where the remnants of dreams live. They are wisps of thought, misty images of scenes, and they commingle with my consciousness as I wake. They are suggestions that task me when I open my eyes, and they are as fleeting as the dreams they come from. 

So I write them down.

I read somewhere that writers should never ignore their dreams. They are pure creation, and they reveal themselves for a reason. As a writer, dismissing them is foolish. For my money, this applies to rewrites as well.

I mentioned earlier that my next novel is in rewrites. I woke the other morning with the thought of my protagonist’s early intro into the story. She does a job she does not care for. She doesn’t hate it because she understands the necessity for it, and likens it to the average American worker who is good at a job that they don’t enjoy. My early morning epiphany suggested I needed to drive that point home a bit more early on, in order to enrich the character, and give the changes she goes through more impact.       

To emphasize the point, I’ll share with you an anecdote a friend shared with me. He said Jeffery Deaver (The Bone Collector, The October List) once told him that he would edit his novels right up to the time they went to print if he could. 

All things considered, I suppose that’s where the rewriting stops … for that edition.

Best Regards,

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