Happy Earth Day!!

Earth Day Flag

 

I haven’t seen much coverage for Earth day this year, since Prince passed away yesterday, but today is the 46th Earth Day. The first one was held in 1970.

The Baby Boomers and my generation, which I guess I am part of X, will be remembered as the generations who did very little about global warming and pollution. Frankly, when we were younger we always said it would be better when our generation came to power, but I’m 46 and I haven’t seen a lot of change.

But, instead of focusing on the whole environment, I want to talk about recycling. I pay an extra $5 a month to have a recycling contained along with my garbage. Why doesn’t the state, city, or county give incentives to waste management companies so I don’t have to pay the extra fee? Because that would require taxes. My recycling company recently sent me a letter saying they would no longer accept glass because the one glass recycling facility in our area has closed because it wasn’t profitable. What? How can we let this happen? It’s happening everywhere apparently.

The United States sets a poor example. We create lots and lots of trash, yet we are in the lower middle quadrant in terms of the percentage of trash recycled.

Do you recycle? Is it even offered in your area? I wish I could do more.

Baffled by Technology and Social Media

I have been talking with my friends about technology lately, and the divide is growing between people on social media and people who aren’t. It seems to me that in general, as you grow older, unless you make a positive effort to stay current, you will just stop being interested in new tech. Inertia in the tech world is a killer.

I went to dinner with several friends in their early to mid fifties last Saturday at a retirement reception for a professor, and this was clear then. Out of eight people at the table, the only two who were on Facebook were the two who are in their late forties (me and another person that I graduated with). The others had all avoided it. Three of them even have kids, and that surprised me. Usually kids keep us current, but no, not this group. And the reason why I hadn’t heard from them in twenty -odd years is because they weren’t on Facebook.

It wasn’t like they had chosen to avoid Facebook and use Twitter or Instagram instead, which some people have been doing lately. They avoided all of it.

But then I think back to when I joined Facebook. I had never heard of it, and my husband joined first. I joined because of him. He’s the cool one in my family. Now neither of our kids want a Facebook account, although our 13-year old daughter has Snapchat, Instagram (or Insta as she calls it), and Twitter. I joined Snapchat and Instagram because our daughter hangs out here, but I still can’t force myself to look at Instagram much.

Here are my basic thoughts about the different social media platforms that I’ve had experience with.

  • Facebook –
    • Pros: It’s still my favorite, especially since I have weeded out all of the political people. I do like seeing how my friends from all over the country are doing, and I love connecting with writers who I have discovered in groups there: Colorado, Kansas, Texas, Georgia, New Zealand, and even Australia. I have actually met the one from Colorado in person when I flew to Denver, and I met the one in Georgia when I went down to Savannah for a conference. Although we had never met in person, it was like we were old friends in both cases. I also like how you can hide annoying people.
    • Cons: Why do people continue to post the “Pray for me” posts that say only that? Not what they want prayer for? If it’s too sensitive to post, then message your closest friends and move on. That avoids twenty responses that are basically “OMG! What’s Wrong!” followed by “I’ll PM you”.  She could have just PM’d them to begin with.
  • Twitter –
    • Pros: Twitter moves fast and furious, and if you collect a large number of followers, it can become  unwieldy if you don’t use the list feature. I like twitter for the personal interaction.
    • Cons: Sometimes Twitter sounds like a cocktail party where everyone in the room is shouting at each other and no one is listening. I’ve followed a lot of authors, and so much of their posts are “BUY MY BOOKS!” that it just becomes noise at some point.
    • Oh, and when my profile says I don’t like direct messages, then why do you do it? And when I get the followers who are selling more fake twitter followers, I block them. Who needs those people in their life?
  • Instagram –
    • Pros: None. I’m on it because my daughter is on it.
    • Cons: I don’t know the user names, which means half the time I don’t know who these people are.
  • Pinterest –
    • Pros: I like sharing pictures of my research that I do for my books.
    • Cons: I really don’t understand it, and I don’t do crafts or complicated recipes. Sometimes my life is a Pinterest fail, but only because I refuse to follow directions on recipes. I prefer winging it.
  • Snapchat –
    • Pros: You can share images without using much data. My daughter loves it.
    • Cons: Sometimes I just want to keep a copy of the Snapchat. I still don’t understand how to take a screenshot.

If I left out your favorite social media, you must be younger than I am and it’s because I’m not on them.

What frustrates you about social media? Do you wish you were less connected?

Editing is a Labor… of Love

Editing_2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tweeted the picture above last week, and a ton of people liked it, and I even had a few questions about it, so I thought I would give a description here of what the flags mean.

I’m hot and heavy in the middle of editing this novel, and I’ve developed a new system using colored flags.

I write with a combination of a “pantser” and a plotter method. I know where I’m going, but my characters tell me how to get there. There are often changes along the way that I have to track backwards. As I write the first draft, I keep a notebook listing the changes that need to happen, or how I think things should change as I go forward. I don’t always make the changes right away, but as I do, I mark through them. (physically marking them off gives me a sense of accomplishment)

Once of the things that i have noticed is that if I edit on screen, particularly toward the end of the editing process, there is no way to check whether the changes were made correctly. This draft is 320 pages 1.5 -spaced, right now coming in at 111k words. It is the longest I have done by far. There is no way that I could re-read the whole thing constantly. It would take forever.

I print it out at 1.5 line spacing. (2 is just too much for me and way too long) I handwrite all of the changes that I make, and I flag the page. Yellow is a minor change (maybe a comma was dropped, or a word is missing, not more than one or two on the page. I ran out of yellow so I also used green for that.

Red is a major change/rewrite. A red flag means that I either added additional text (handwritten behind the typed page) or I deleted massive text, or reworked sentences to the point that the page needs serious work. At this stage, red happens when I have to backtrack and make the changes consistent (as noticed above) or I feel like the scene needs more development. One improvement to my writing in the past three years that I have noticed is that my scenes are longer and fuller.

Blue means it’s something that needs more thought. For example, did a character’s dad die of a heart attack or cancer? I was toying with both and wasn’t sure which I wanted. So I flagged it with blue to come back to it. It was in the past, so just briefly referenced, but it became an issue as to whether it was a quick sudden death or drawn-out illness. I had to make sure and change it everywhere. I also use blue when my editor makes suggestions and I either haven’t decided whether to make her change, or her change would take to long to address at that moment.

I reuse all the flags as I pull them off. After I make all the changes, I reprint it and go back and re-read everything that I changed and compare it to the draft that I marked up. Often a red flag goes to yellow for the first cut because I rarely get edits right the first time. (For example, I may change a word and then when I reprint it, notice that I used the exact same phrase or word a little higher on the page, which means I have to change something.)

This is the first book that I have been so diligent about edits, and I have a greater confidence that i won’t miss something crucial this time. I still may—and my husband is my final proof-reader when he has the time–but with the flags at least I know what I have ahead. When I look at the front part of the printout and see very few red flags, and just a smattering of yellow, then I feel like that’s progress. That’s progress. There is actually something soothing about handwriting additions. It helps keep me in the zone.

When I do spellcheck/grammar check, I do it with track changes in Word and then I print out the file with the track changes. That part of it is still a little bit cumbersome, but I still try to have something that I can check it against.

Editing is exhausting, but it’s fulfilling because I can see it come alive and how all of the pieces fit together. I add pieces all along the way to flesh out characters better and issues.
With my next book I will try fewer iterations, which means I need to spend more time adding sensory and character detail into the first draft. That’s usually something I focus on in the second draft.

Since I took this picture, I decided to put all the yellow flags at the top of the page on the right, all the blue in the middle, and all the red at the bottom. It’s easier to see where I am that way. Now if I only had time to finish the edits. My deadline is calling.

Do you have a particular quirk about how you edit your novel once you have a first draft? I have had several writers tell me that they send their first or second draft to their editor and move on, and that idea gives me the shakes.