Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Teenager in the Tree

Rani's up a tree again.

I'm sorry, but I had to do it. Again.

After days of trying to reorganize my photo files and clear enough junk off my hard drives to enable the backup to work, I gave this computer its first Windows-based defrag in, well, possibly ever. It took hours and hours. (Norton does an Optimize that takes hardly any time at all.) While I was waiting, I thought about researching agents or starting work on revising and finishing Mages of Mâvarin, but ended up opening Chapter One of Heirs of Mâvarin instead. I figured I'd give my first novel a nice, relaxing read through. I'd double-check that it made sense when read all at once, and catch any lingering typos. Within the first two pages, I found:
  • a sentence that ended in a comma,
  • a paragraph so choppy that it failed to lead the reader coherently from the previous paragraph to the following one, and
  • a paragraph with a really, really long sentence about the view from Rani's tree, followed by a sentence about Rani's view downstream not being nearly as good. Nearly as good as what? The paragraph no longer mentioned that the other view was upstream.

Yuck. And these are the two pages an agent or editor must get past before deciding to give the rest of the book serious consideration? I may as well not send it out, if I'm just going to sabotage my book with a sloppy final edit!

I think I know what the problem is. The last time through, I was working hard at bringing down word count. I frequently revised and combined sentences, trying to make things clearer and less wordy. But in doing so, I apparently failed to notice the occasional artifact left over from the old sentences, or references back to text that no longer existed. Aargh!

Wrong kind of road, wrong kind of trees, wrong kind of river,
and a modern sign in
the background; but this is as close
as I can come to visually depicting the scene without ripping

off someone else's photo of a riverside beech tree.

So that last, take-it-from-the-top edit that I had decided not to do on the grounds that it would be just an excuse not to send the thing out, turns out to be necessary after all. So I'm back in Chapter One. Rani is out of the tree and I've fixed the three problems I've listed above, but I still have half the chapter to go through. Maybe the later chapters will be cleaner, but do I really want to take that chance?

As for the backup problem, I've just about decided that it's Picasa's fault, with a little help from me. Picasa shows every folder containing picture files on either my C: drive or my backup I: drive, most of which is from Norton's backup. In working with those files, perhaps even just displaying them, I probably messed up the compression. Now the backup only gets up to 2007 before the backup drive is full.

So I'm going through the pictures on my hard drive, and rearranging them by subject instead of by date. It seems silly to have, for example, a folder nearly every month containing anywhere from two to thirty Doctor Who-related pictures, or to have to search by month for that shot of the pink bison, or to hunt through a zillion folders in a zillion places for that one remembered shot of Tuffy. The new scheme will continue to have a folder for each camera to keep the eras separate, but within each of those will be a master folder for dogs, one for sunsets, etc. And for subjects I tend to obsess on, there will be subfolders sorting the contents by month. I've already crashed Picasa at least once - its cataloging routine was overwhelmed with the changes - but I'll keep going anyway. In the end it should be worth it, both to make things easier to find and because I'll be able to eliminate more dupe files.

Gee, it's a good thing I'm unemployed. It means I have more time for this stuff! (Yeah, right.)

By the way, do any of you live in an area with one or more beech trees beside a river? If so, will you let me use your photo thereof on this blog and the Mâvarin web site? It would be with full credit to you, of course.



Paul said...

So, rather than trying to function as an editor and a writer at the same time, does it make sense to read the entire test as an editor, making red-pencil notes as you go -as an editor would - and go back and rewrite based on those notes later?

barrettmanor said...

Ouch, on several levels. Is this your new Vista laptop? I ask because it should defrag itself.

Have you thought about reading/printing your ms. in a different typeface? It'll make you slow down as you read. You can always set it back before you print it to send.

And check your inbox.