Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Desperation and Deadlines

by Stephanie Black

Oops, yeah, I was supposed to blog today. Well, it IS still today for a few more hours, right?

I just got back from a youth temple trip to Oakland. One of my favorite parts of serving in Young Women’s is attending the youth baptism trips. Three of my children were there with me tonight, so that was awesome. My oldest daughter graduates from high school in two weeks. I'll soon be the mother of a college student. But I'd like to report that I still look so young that a lady at the door had to clarify that I was the lady of the house, because apparently, I could pass for one of the kids in the household. I was flattered. She then wanted me to donate money to her cause, but I’m willing to believe her compliment anyway because I’m just that desperate.

Speaking of desperation, yeah, that was me, sitting in the FedEx parking lot at five-something yesterday afternoon, frantically making sure all the pages of Methods of Madness were facing the right way so I could make the 5:45 priority overnight shipping deadline. Down to the wire, as usual. It’s all about the adrenaline rush.

This page thing is trickier than it sounds, because the manuscript was printed on both sides of the paper, which means it’s mega-easy to get your pages backward. Overall, the manuscript looked a bit more hammered when I finished with it than it did when it arrived all nice and neat, smooth and white, with nice red pen marks. By the time I was through with it, it had been carried around for days, penciled on, erased, penciled on again, and penciled on some more. I edit in pencil; I can’t possibly do it in pen. Erasers give their lives for my manuscripts. I’m puzzled and awed by people who can edit in pen. That’s so . . . decisive! It’s something I just can’t comprehend, like how microchips work and the meaning of Paul Simon lyrics.

I’m grateful that I got an extra day with the book. Originally I’d planned to send it on Monday, but with the Memorial Day holiday, FedEx was closed that day, so that meant I’d need to ship it on Tuesday. I needed every minute of that extra day and would have liked a few more minutes, or a few hundred, actually. My goal was to make it through the whole manuscript twice, and I almost made it—I was about thirty or so pages short of that goal when I ran out of time. I’d have loved to hang onto the manuscript for another week, but given that the book comes out in August, I really needed to get it back to my editor. So I turned it in, but I haven’t stopped stressing about it. Today, I started worrying about this one issue at the end . . . should I change it . . . is it okay . . . should I really have named the villain Jeffrey “Scott” Wells, and was that beard a little over-the-top?


At 5/28/2009 2:30 AM, Blogger LexiconLuvr said...

Hee hee hee. Loved the villains name. =]

At 5/28/2009 2:51 AM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

Stephanie, have you ever read Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers? Along with solving the mystery, our heroine Harriet Vane agrees to help a fellow writer with her proofs and getting the completed manuscript to the printers. It's a bit of a thread running throughout the book, that Miss Lydgate is always revising and improving, especially at the last minute when it should be going to press. I love this particular quote: "... in the course of the necessary cross-reference, Miss Lydgate would be discovered by her pupils and colleagues wound into a kind of paper cocoon and helplessly searching for her fountain-pen amid the litter."

But Harriet helps, as shown by this paragraph where she recounts to a friend her experience with the manuscript: "And that reminds me. Miss Lydgate's History of Prosody was marked Press with her own hand. I fled with it and seized on a student to take it down to the pritners. I'm almost positive I heard a faint voice crying from the window about a footnote on page 97 -- but I pretended not to hear."

I was reminded of this book by reading of your revising and worrying and only wanting to make corrections in pencil! :-)

At 5/28/2009 9:31 AM, Blogger Josi said...

Editing in pencil? I've never heard such a thing. Ink means you CAN'T go back, it also means you don't have to worry about what you fixed cause it's in PEN. I think pencil would make me even more stressed--because there was still potential changes I could make. I'm not sure I'd ever finish. Shudder. Glad it got in on time

At 5/28/2009 9:39 AM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

"STET" is your friend, girl! It makes the world go round. Or at least editing with pen possible.

Congrats with a new book coming out so soon--and with meeting your deadline. (Now I can't wait to see what the villain is named . . .)

At 5/28/2009 9:17 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

It's hopeless--I just can't edit in pen, stet notwithstanding. My manuscript would be such a horrible mess that how would my editor ever read it?

Melanie, that is hilarious! Oh wow, I can relate! I'll have to read that book.


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