Archive | February, 2012

An Experience in Surreallity

27 Feb

I had a dream in which I was with several people and was about to go on a hike. I was dressed as though I were going hiking, and I had a backpack with me. I started out wearing one of my Nepalese caps but then somehow ended up wearing a purple stocking cap instead (one that I don’t have in this reality). At the end of the dream, I (or somebody) said, “You meet so many people. Do you ever lose yourself?”

Then the phone rang, and I woke up. I reluctantly got out of bed and went to the living room. According to the caller ID, the caller was WIGGET S and the phone number began with my area code, 503. It’s true that my mother is also WIGGET S, but her area code is 219. Perhaps I was psychically calling myself.

You meet so many people. Do you ever lose yourself?

It’s ironic, since I’m a very self-centered person with a strong core personality, so that dream doesn’t seem really appropriate for me. Far from forgetting myself, I incorporate some aspects of myself into every protagonist (even if it’s as subtle as certain emotional reactions I’ve had to situations that might be vaguely similar), and sometimes even into characters who aren’t the protagonist. Furthermore, I have a very strong sense of self and am very much aware of what my beliefs are, what my perspective is and what my view on the world is like. So it doesn’t seem like an appropriate question to address to me.

Far from forgetting myself, I end up getting impatient while working on a character chart because I’m not good at thinking about things from different perspectives. This is something I’m working on with Woodland Castle—I’ve got different characters’ perspectives, very different perspectives, and I’m trying to be open-minded in that respect. I’m tempted to say that Katarina is the character who’s most like me…she’s certainly my favorite character and the one I find most interesting (that’s why I’ve used her for the second time, never mind that her name was slightly different in “Princess and Frog”).

However, I do know people who are extremely inconsistent and don’t have a strong sense of self. One of them has extreme borderline personality disorder and seems like a different person from time to time. The other is a sort of chameleon, a social climber who pretends to be someone else depending on the social circle in any given moment. Both of these people (whom I no longer think of as friends) seem to fluctuate in their opinions from time to time.

Last Night’s Memorable Dreams

13 Feb

I had a dream in which I was sitting cross-legged on the floor or ground with someone (my dad?) who wasn’t Buddhist, and to our right were a pair of Buddhist monks. One wore mustard yellow and the other wore brown. My dad (or whoever) pointed out them out to me—in speech, not literally pointing—and commented on the fact that they didn’t wear the same color, believing they were from different sects or something. I pointed out that they were both Theravada Buddhists and therefore practiced vipassana, the same kind of meditation as I practice.

I had a dream in which I was on a sort of vacation with my mother and a couple of cats—Buttermilk and Thomas, no less, cats from my childhood and adolescence. We were hanging out on a sloping patch of lawn in front of a big whitish brick or concrete building, and many other people and their cats were doing the same, sitting around and talking on the very short grass. People had luggage and such with them. The two cats had a box to stay in, but I noticed one of them wasn’t in the box. My mother got up and wandered around (even though in real life she can scarcely walk, or at least doesn’t do so without gasping for breath). She went off toward the building, to the right side of it (that is, on your right if you’re facing the building). She may have been going to find a place to smoke—actually, I think she was really heading for a restroom. At some point, after she’d been gone for a little while, I got up and went in the same direction, looking for Buttermilk. I came to a patch of lawn next to the building and sloping a little (the way the land tries to be hills in northern Indiana—hillock would be a good word for it), and I wandered around there. I saw a couple of other cats wandering around loose, and finally I saw Buttermilk. Also my mother appeared and spotted her. We returned to our seats (with Buttermilk), where Thomas was sleeping sprawled out inside the box.

Developmental Editing

8 Feb
If your developmental editing feedback doesn’t make an author feel eager to get to work revising the manuscript and instead makes your author depressed and reluctant to work on the manuscript, then maybe you’re doing something wrong.
When I’m working on a developmental edit—that is, editorial feedback on major elements such as characters, plot structure, and dialog (rather than grammar and spelling)—I typically mix in a lot of praise with constructive criticism about how the manuscript can be improved. Even as I do this, I sometimes think this praise is useless fluff. Perhaps the praise isn’t as necessary as pointing out how the book or story can be better, but it instills a sensitive author with confidence and encouragement. This is important, believe it or not.
Back in my undergraduate days in the early 1990s, I had a college instructor who was great at giving such feedback. No matter how much the story needed improvement, no matter how rough it was, this instructor got me excited to run to the computer lab or to my dorm room and get back to work revising that story. That’s the best way to do a developmental edit.
That constructive criticism sprinkled with praise is infinitely better than getting developmental feedback that leaves the author feeling battered and believing it’s not such a worthwhile writing project after all. Developmental feedback that’s abrasive, snarky, sarcastic, and/or impatient rubs the author the wrong way. Accusing the author of not writing in a scene or detail that they did write but that you skipped over also rubs the author the wrong way. Doing all that and/or refraining from supplying the author with any praise, not so much as a, “This is a very promising beginning and I’m looking forward to seeing a later draft!” also rubs the author the wrong way.

First Person or Third Person

2 Feb

Revision that involves changing first person perspective to third person perspective is a bit on the tedious side, since I’m going through and changing pronouns. A problem I’ve found with this by getting rid of “I,” I end up with an awful lot of “she” and “her,” between Violet and Amaryllis interacting together. I just looked over a paragraph before changing it and now suspect that it works better in first person. Of the three editors who gave me feedback on this manuscript, only one of them said I should change it to third person, so maybe I’ll just ignore that after all. Or maybe I’ll continue changing it later, after I’ve worked on plot development more. Decisions, decisions.
I’m lucky nobody said I should change it from past tense to present tense.