Friday, December 28, 2012
Like a Virgin...
Good morning from snowy West Virginia!
I emptied my purse this morning and found the two little pieces of paper I'd saved from Christmas Day - an IOU to me from my son who stuck it inside my gift and the little name tag that my daughter made out of wrapping paper to put on my beautiful gift. I'm very sentimental. I save things like that. Actually, who am I kidding? I've saved everything my children have ever given me.
In the attic sits a huge Rubbermaid container with everything from my children's first scribbles, their drawings, first attempts at letters, hand-made greeting cards to their high school and college essays. They are my treasures - my children and their writing and drawings. My daughter is in a Master's program at the same university my sister and I graduated from and I'm saving her papers, as well. Why stop now, right?!
In that same container, I've saved Mother's Day cards for my mother that I made when I was young, a racy, poster-size drawing from high school that I copied from an issue of Cosmo magazine I wasn't supposed to have, and dozens of fashion illustrations I drew from Women's Wear Daily magazines from my 20's. I kept it all! Everything tells a story and when I look at them, I am transported back in time, to more innocent, beautiful times.
There are a couple of things I know about myself for certain. One is that I've always been a storyteller. Whether with words, crayons, pastels or watercolor, we all tell our stories. My family knows me to return from a trip, a trip to the supermarket or just a Metro ride and come home with a funny or interesting story or two about someone I met or someone or something I'd observed. In high school and in college, I was the go-to friend that my friends went to about writing a kick ass "Dear John" letter to a soon-to-be ex, and yes, I will confess to helping my friends whose first language wasn't English with essays and papers in college. I edited them, I didn't write them, so don't get the wrong idea :)
I don't know if it's a Virgo thing or not, but the second thing is that I have a hard time with bad grammar and misspelled words in any form...and, I find them all the time. Be it on a friend's website, a cereal box (yes, I found one!), a menu or a sign - I'll find it. The only place I seemed to have missed bad grammar and misspelled words is in my own novel-length manuscript! I've read and read these pages for years now and thank God for Microsoft Office is all I have to say. The program catches my misuse of grammar and misspelled words which is great. What this program doesn't do, however (unless no one has informed me) is help with clarity.
I am a person who speaks clearly and always attempts to make myself understood and crystal clear. I can actually admit that I also edit my texts and instant messages. I know. I know! It's a Virgo thing and only two fellow Virgo girlfriends and I will admit to that! And, don't even get me started on auto-correct. The thought of being misunderstood or worse, that my words would unintentionally hurt someone really bothers me. I want to be understood and I want people to enjoy my novel.
What about with a novel? Art and writing are subjective! I've exhibited art pieces and photography that visitors didn't "get". What I intend to show you through my words, descriptions, locales and by the use of our senses might resonate with you OR they just might go right over your head or by the wayside. Too much description can bore us, too little can confuse us and/or make us go back a page or two. Too much dialogue might take us away from the scene and too little might seem sterile and dry. The flow of a story is important! I love a page-turner and it is a true art. One that I'm trying and determined to master...and master and master.
Note: Two page-turners that immediately come to mind are Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. I read those books in less than two days; couldn't put them down!
I am in awe of a great page-turner that keeps my interest, teaches me new things and shows me new places. I am a believer in editing to the best of our ability and then, reading our work from start to finish, without editing. I just put the pencil and the pad of paper down and I read.
I have 25 pages left to edit today. Later today or tomorrow as I watch the snow fall, I'm curling up on the couch with a pot of tea, my kitten on my lap, and my manuscript, A Decent Woman. Just me and my beloved story as if I were looking at it with fresh, new eyes for the very first time.
Like a virgin :)
Peace and love,