Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the first official Law Day in the United States, a day to celebrate and reflect on the importance of the rule of law. Originally, it was a thumb in the eye of the Reds from Ike and the American Bar Association; now, nobody cares but us lawyers. What the hell, it may not be much of a holiday, but we’ll take it, thanks.
Here’s a link to the Wikipedia entry, and to the editorial by the President of the ABA. There, now you’re informed. Go forth and celebrate! And reflect!
It is also, for the record, exactly six months until the start of NaNoWriMo.
I took my fourth — and what I think is my last — pass through TTB today and dumped it on Mrs. Unfocused for a final proofread. Once she’s done with that (or sooner, if she tells me she can’t stand to read it again), I’m going to type in the changes and send it out. I think I’ve caught all the typos, tied off the loose ends, cut what could be cut and added what needed to be added, and I am thoroughly sick of the whole process (thus my prior post, I Hate Editing and I Must Be Almost Done Editing), so any further revision would just be pointless mutilation. Which I am wholeheartedly against.
I now have the final title for TTB, and have kissed the working title of “Test Tube Beneficiary” good-bye; I got the title right last night, after trying several that were just awful.
I had to stop myself on several occasions today from making picky word choice edits and just stick to fixing glaring errors. How much editing is too much? The answer, at least for this story: one more minute than I have spent so far.
Here’s the issue: I’m at a point in Meet the Larssons where I can see I’ve got a long way to go to get to the end, and I’m not entirely sure which of the many available paths to take to get there. I do know, however, what the final scene will be, and could probably knock it out in close to final form in one evening. I’ve had it in my head since I started working on the thing. (Note to self: in future posts, refer to MTL as “The Thing.” It sounds appropriately tortured and arty.)
Mrs. Unfocused thinks that would be cheating, like eating dessert before dinner, and that I should only get to write the ending as a reward for writing everything that comes before it.
I know at least some of you are struggling with (or breezing through) your own works in progress. Have you written your endings already? Would you ever? Or never never?
At least, I assume I’m It, because that’s what usually happens when I get tagged. Mada tagged me for the dreaded “Six Things About Me” blog meme, and now I have to come up with six things about myself and tag six other bloggers.
Before I forget, I need to post the rules. The rules are:
- Link to the person who tagged you.
- Post the rules.
- Write six things about yourself.
- Tag six people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.
- Let them know they’ve been tagged by leaving a comment on their sites.
- Let your tagger know when your entry is up.
Without further ado, here are six things about my favorite subject, me
- I picked “The Unfocused Life” as my domain name because I’m, y’know, kind of unfocused. I can focus; it’s not like I have adult ADHD or anything. I think. Several of my coworkers over the years have suggested that I might, but what do they … hey, what’s that shiny thing?
- In college, I went through three majors before I settled on Political Science. The other two were Physics and Philosophy, so at least I stuck to the P section of the course catalog. Before you ask, there was no Psychology major until my third or fourth year; until then, it was called Behavioral Science.
- I hate doing little fussy projects with my hands. When I was around 8, my mother gave me a chemistry set for my birthday, after I begged her and begged her and begged her and begged her for it. I did one experiment: I made invisible ink, which, unsurprisingly, I couldn’t read, and then I was done. I started a couple of others, but getting these teeny-tiny amounts of chemicals into the teenier, tinier test tubes made me INSANE. In high school, I got a crystal radio kit; the instructions said you must coil the wire around the tube carefully and neatly, without any twists in the wire. I screwed it up on the second turn of the wire around the tube, and I was done. This afternoon, I helped Unfocused Girl make a set of pentominoes (we’re taking turns reading Chasing Vermeer to each other before she goes to bed, and they play a major role in the book), and I wanted to stab myself with the scissors. Not because I objected to doing a project with UG — far from it, which is why I was able to stick it out — but because drawing the grid on the cardboard, and then cutting out the shapes … made … me … all … twitchy … arg! I’m perfectly happy doing big things with my hands, however; a few years ago, my father-in-law and I spent the weekend building an enormous playset in the backyard for the kids — no problem.
- If I go more than a few days without running, I have dreams that I’m smoking. I quit smoking in 1992.
- Last movie that made me cry? Armageddon. Not the ending — it was the scene where [SPOILER ALERT] the young son of one of the crew members who didn’t know his father at all is watching the crew board the shuttle and says to his mother, “Look, that salesman’s on TV,” and his mother says, “That’s not a salesman, that’s your daddy.” [END SPOILER] My only excuse that I was watching it on an Air France flight home from Paris, and I drank a LOT of Veuve Cliquot before the movie started.
- My least favorite chore before going to bed is feeding Big Pink Fishie. I have no idea why; it’s the easiest thing in the world.
Enough about me; let’s talk about you talking about me. Or about you, if you must. I hereby tag:
Everything Under the Sun
Life in Scribbletown
I just cut about a thousand words from Meet the Larssons, because I realized that I did something to one of the main characters that either I shouldn’t have done, or shouldn’t have done yet. So I moved the original versions of the last two chapters I’d written (Chapters 23 and 24) into the Research folder of my Scrivener project file, and copied them back to salvage what I can (which, thankfully, is most of Chapter 23 and about half of Chapter 24). It’s not that I like going backwards, but it could have been much worse.
It’s been heating up at The Firm lately, which is one of the reasons I haven’t been posting as frequently. People get sued, people need suing (“Why’d you do it?” “He needed suin’.”), one of the senior partners gets hired, and eventually I get a phone call and my blogging dries up for a bit. This is just a quick update to kickstart my blogging muscles.
I’ve also been trying to make some progress on Meet the Larssons, which I put aside a few weeks ago in the push to finish the first draft of “Test Tube Beneficiary” and then get through the revisions. I’m back into it now, though, and I think it’s coming along. I’m going to have to change the name of the family at the center of the book though — I only noticed it recently, but one character, Astrid Larsson, has the same name as one of the main characters in S.M. Stirling’s Emberverse Trilogy. There’s no similarity between MTL and Mr. Stirling’s books, but it’s an easy enough change for me to make (hit REPLACE ALL and we’re done!). As a working title, though, I think I’ll leave it as Meet the Larssons, at least for now. It’s past 65,000 words, and I think I’m on track to meet my goal of finishing the first draft by the end of June. That will depend on how crazy things get at the office.
As for TTB, after three passes through it (two hand markups on paper, then one more set of revisions as I typed in the first two), I managed to cut a whopping 110 words, net — I cut a lot more than that, and but I added enough that it was effectively a wash. Between Passover and other commitments, I haven’t been able to get it into final shape to submit, but I expect to get that done in the next week or two. I accomplished Step One, buy more printer paper, on Monday
That’s enough for now. My blogging muscles are all wobbly. I’ll try to think of something interesting to say for tomorrow.
I’m no poet, but Karen at Outpost Mavarin has assigned us to write a poem to celebrate National Poetry Month, and in the interest of building character, I’ll give it a shot. In the interest of getting it over with, I’m going to go with haiku, because I think I can handle seventeen syllables of verse.
Dark early morning
bed shakes, I leap up and stand,
hear glasses clinking
In honor of the Great Chicago Earthquake of 2008.
When I was in high school, my friend Barry used to say that he was Jewish, but not very good at it. I’m half-Jewish, and not terribly good even at that. Add it to the list of things I’m not terribly good at.
We do have a seder almost every year for Passover, though, so the kids learn something about this part of their heritage (and because we enjoy it). Over the years we’ve cobbled together our own Haggadah from various sources, and we all have our designated lines. Mrs. Unfocused, Lutheran born and bred, gets into the spirit of it, even to the point of buying kosher-for-passover wine, which has come a long way from the sugary aged grape juice I remember tasting as a youngster. She also does a lot more of the preparation work than I do; she’s cooking now – I can smell the lamb shanks from the upstairs bathroom where I’m giving the kids a bath. A little over eight hours to sunset. Getting hungry.
I don’t have anything deep to say about Pesach; I’m neither religious nor spiritual. But I do think it’s important to pass on at least some of these traditions, if only to keep the history alive.
because I’m starting to HATE Test Tube Beneficiary. I’ve been through it twice since Saturday morning, marking my changes using Pen and Paper v. 1.0. I’ll type them in tonight, then print off a clean copy for Mrs. Unfocused to review. If at all possible, I want to get TTB out the door by next Monday; otherwise, there’s a very real possibility that I’ll feed it to the shredder.
I finished the first draft of Test Tube Beneficiary three weeks ago. I haven’t looked at since, because I wanted to give myself some distance. But it’s time to start editing, revising, and generally hacking away at it to get it into shape for submission. Last night I printed off a hard copy and marked up the first two pages.
Then I fell asleep.
This is going to take awhile.
I’m trying to keep in mind the advice Stephen King (I seem to refer to him a lot, but why not? he’s written a lot of good books) received from an editor who rejected one of his early short story submissions. I can’t find the quote in my copy of On Writing, but 37signals quotes the book the way I remember it:
Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: “Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft – 10%. Good luck.”
Enough stalling. Time to get the knife and start cutting. I hope I can use the scalpel, and not the ax.