Hazy (Not so) Lazy Days of Summer – at Last!

The humidex is apparently 40 degrees in the Annapolis Valley today. The heat we get here, the kind that makes you feel like you’re moving in slow motion, is so different than in tropical climates.

I’ve been spending almost my entire summer revising a number of manuscripts, utilizing my newly-honed skills, thanks to having been mentored by Gary Blackwood last winter. I’m amazed at how much I learned from him – now if only it will make my work more desirable to publishers/agents, etc. I have to admit I’m really starting to enjoy the editing process. I’d like it even more if I was doing it under the instruction of a seasoned professional, I suppose. Hopefully, I’m accomplishing something on my own.

School will soon start again; Liam will return to Queen’s, Don and Shannon to Horton. I’m going to try substituting, a first for me. Some days, I just can’t see myself at the front of a classroom full of strangers, but other days, I think it might not be so bad. Time will tell…Hopefully, I’ll also be tutoring ESL students again, a job that really suits me. If I had to do it again, I don’t think I’d have spent quite so many years staying home and making children’s clothing. I think I would have enjoyed teaching at the elementary level. I suppose 15 or so years ago, I really felt I had to be home with my kids. Hindsight and all that…

“Killing off your darlings”, as Kathy Stinson says…

I’m not sure if I’ve got that expression quite right, but it’s something along those lines – ie. editing out the unnecessary words that once seemed so perfect. At the suggestion of a children’s editor, I’ve been hard at work shortening “A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk” for the past 10 days or so. It’s amazing how much can be shaved off without changing the story’s essence. I’ve reduced the manuscript by over 10,000 words (from 67,000 to 57,000), but I’m not finished yet…The 240 pages have been reduced to about 200, and it feels right when I read through it (even though there were a couple of good scenes I chopped). I’ve been told the general rule of writing is, “if it doesn’t advance the story, in some way, it doesn’t need to be there.” I suppose that would be especially true of a novel for middle grade readers, who like lots of action and rapid plot advancement. Truthfully, I’ve been surprised at the number of words I’ve been able to get rid of, and I hope I’m right in believing the pruning is improving the manuscript overall.

I applied, unsuccessfully, for a NS Dept of Culture grant for this project – just found out yesterday it was a no. I’m wondering if it’s because I mentioned I wouldn’t be teaching during the summer. Do they only give Creation Grants to full-time writers – ie. those who earn their living completely through their writing? When you read through the list of grant recipients, there seem to be many of the same people receiving grants each year. Interesting…