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Step one – open shitty first draft.
2 print out in word draft mode, light colored ink. 3 put on extra
strong glasses and lamp. rewrite every single page until it looks
like it’s bleeding. Be aware that you might need a lot of physical
space for laying out the pages. clothespins are key. 5. type in
handwritten edits. 6. go back to step 2 and do it all again. lather
rinse repeat.

Step one – open shitty first draft.

Step two –  print out in word draft mode, light colored ink.

Step three – put on extra strong glasses and bright lamp. Rewrite every single page until it looks like it’s bleeding. Be aware that you might need a lot of physical space for laying out the pages. Clothespins are key. So are Post-It notes.

ugly stuff

ugly stuff

Step five – type in handwritten edits.

smells fishy to Barkis

smells fishy to Barkis

Step six – go back to step 2 and do it all again.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

everyone's a critic

everyone’s a critic

Barkis is not too subtle when he wants to go for a walk….

The secret? See below:

A revised manuscript finally wings its way out the door. I’m posting this so you can see 1) this funny cartoon and b) the time stamp on the e-mail.

From: Susan Wiggs Sent: Wednesday, August 18, 2010 4:55 AM
To: my long-suffering editor
Cc: my cheerleader of an agent
Subject: Daisy v. 2
Importance: High

My name is Susan and I’m a WordPerfect addict. It’s every bit as essential as my Clairefontaine notebooks and Shaefer Javelin fountain pen (peacock blue ink, please). WordPerfect is not perfect, but for writing a novel, it’s close.

And then there’s Word. The industry standard. Do not ask me why. The first time I saw “Clippie,” I thought I was hallucinating. C’mon, Clippie? Am I not enraged enough by the program itself?

But let’s be fair. Word has one huge virtue. I love the way it prints out a draft. A draft, I am forced to tell you, I created in WordPerfect. Word is too stupid to open it, so while In WordPerfect, I click “Save As” and select some version of MS Word.

(Side note–My nomination for dumbest upgrade ever? When New Word refused to recognize Old Word, thus creating the doc to docx confusion.)

But back to the draft. My early drafts are riddled with side notes or comments, the little hidden things that say “this is dreck–revise later” or “sheer genius,” (rare) or “then, a miracle occurred…” They also contain research material, continuity notes, deleted sentences I’m not ready to let go of, questions to ponder, you name it.

When you print out the draft in Word, it automatically prints those side notes oin a nice little column on the side. If a note is long, it continues it at the end of the document.



I love this feature! But I hate everything else about Word.

Are there Word-defenders out there? What do your drafts look like?

The ONLY thing I love about Word: is the way it prints out a draft.
It puts my side notes or comments in a nice little column on the
side. If a note is long, it continues it at the end of the document.
I love this feature! I hate everything else about word.

Please note: Any photo can be improved by the addition of a ground squirrel. Here’s how to squirrelize your pics.

the Squirrelizer elevates any photo to fine art

the Squirrelizer elevates any photo to fine art

In my Shelf Awareness feature, I admitted to this:

Book you’ve faked reading: Du Coté de Chez Swann by Marcel Proust. In French. I was trying to impress a professor who I later learned was gay. Quel dommage!


image from Wikipedia Commons

image from Wikipedia Commons

I wish I could be more patient with this book, because the bits and pieces I’ve read are truly beautiful. All four of them. 🙂 Yet the book was so good that one of the several publishers that rejected it later wrote him an apology. However, the image above stole my heart–it’s a galley proof from a manuscript that sold at Christies for £663 750. But that’s not what stole my heart–it’s his cutting-and-pasting technique. Masterful. But how did the poor man write a whole work of literary genius without Post-It Notes? No wonder he died young.


I'm a messy writer, too, Marcel!

I'm a messy writer, too, Marcel!



And p.s., Proust is wise:

Every reader finds himself. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument that makes it possible for the reader to discern what, without this book, he would perhaps never have seen in himself.”

Your turn–have you fake-read any good books lately?

No, really, he did. There’s something about those little copy edit flags he can’t resist. (A copy edit is an almost-final once-over on the manuscript. The copy editor indicates her comments and queries with sticky flags that say things like “she walked through the door 3x on this pg.” or “this is the 13th month of her pregnancy.” Somehow, the CE resists adding, “moron.”) meaty meaty

So here’s why writers don’t get cocky no matter how well their books are selling. The actual work of writing never changes. This is Lakeshore Christmas. Or it will be if I get my revisions done and make my deadline. After I sent this baby off to my publisher, my editor and copy editor had their way with it, and suddenly the baby is ugly all over again. The blue tabs at the tops of the pages are the revisions I’ve accomplished so far. The ones down the side are sections I still need to rewrite. By next week.

weekend o fun

weekend o' fun

 Oh, and yes indeed, that is fresh snow you see in the background out the window. Thanks for asking!

a day at the beach

a day at the beach

I had a big editing job on an upcoming reissued historical novel, so we headed for the coast so I could work on it. Oh, and play hooky. Most people think Long Beach is in Southern California, but Washingston state has its very own. It’s deserted in winter. All the better for beach walks…and RUNS.

Please enjoy this publishing fantasy from Macmillan. My 18 copy editors are laughing their blue pencils off.

The sweetest of love stories came to a bittersweet end. Talented writer and old friend Jo Leigh’s story is here. And the end here. Author Alison Kent has organized a fundraiser chock full of incredible gifts you can bid on, proceeds to go to medical costs. Please take a look, make a bid, and help out a wonderful writer.

Jolie & Dotes Jolie & Dotes

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I tend to spontaneously give stuff away to readers and libraries. Join the fun here. Really.

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July 2020