March 27, 2007

Yacking About Writingish Things

When I went to college, my father offered to buy me a computer.

“OH NO!” I said. “What do I want with a COMPUTER??!?! I don’t plan on being a GOOBER when I grow up, silly Father. I plan on being a WRITER! What I need is an IBM Selectric and a host of black clothes and some methadone!”

He bought me a word processor about the size of a modern laptop with an attachable mini printer, his compromise between my desire for typewriter street cred and what he saw as a key to college term paper success: the ability to edit on screen. I pranced off, making the same sort of compromise by wearing the all black clothes but completely neglecting to get addicted to heroin.

I think of it now as I prepare to wade back into TGWSS for line edits at the end of this week because I JUST NOW put Toggy into a SINGLE FILE.

See, I wrote on that old word processor for more than a decade, and by the time it had come to the middle of its small brained and pathetic mono-purposed life (and I was cursing my 18 year old moronic self, desperate for a REAL COMPUTER) it had some troubles.

The main trouble was, that WP really wanted to belong to a short story writer. It was a BIG O. Henry fan, apparently, and loved the short form SO much that if a document got over 5,000 words long, the WP would CRASH and lose pages. *sigh* It would have been good discipline for a short story writer---anything over 5,000 words is a very hard sell.

But for me, writing full length plays and beginning to realize that when I read, my hand reached for a novel every time, not shorts, not plays, and that maybe I should be writing the thing I LOVED…it was very annoying. I wrote my 100 page fictional Masters Thesis on that thing. Saved in chunks of 4,000 words, and I wrote my first novel (not gods in Alabama, a very SHORT novel about this snake who bites an old man’s eye out…surrently R.I.Ping in the drawers under the bookshelves in my office) on it, and I had it saved in chapters.)

Scott and I were living in Chicago then, pretty much subsisting on jug wine, oxygen and love with the occasional infusion of Top Ramen. AH grad school! So it was aWHILE before we got a computer. When we DID….well. I was already in the habit of the 5,000 word save. I wrote the next three novels (another unpublished, gods, and then Between) in the same way, each chapter saved alone.

With TGWISS I managed to wean myself between drafts to save in 3 and 4 chapter section of AROUND 100 pages each, but it made editing over the phone HELLISH as my editor would say “Now here on page 287…” and I would be on page 72 of section 3. YARG!

ANYWAY. I may TRY to write this next book in ONE FILE, but I just took a rough draft run at the beginning yesterday, and I realized this AM that I did not name the file TRR, as the now complete THE GIRL WHO STOPPED SWIMMING single file is named TGWSS. I named this, “TRR Chapter 1.” Um, yeah. So. Old Stupids Die Hard.

IN OTHER NON STOLEN OWL RELATED NEWS, my publisher has changed names. Same people, same everything, but we are now GRAND CENTRAL PUBLISHING. I got a letter from my publisher yesterday about it, and I think it's a pretty dern cool new name.

According to Galleycat, other possible press names were Blue Heron, which could have had a cool logo, but is maybe not the exact right name for a New York house. It sounds the TINIEST bit regional. Other contender was Jack Straw Publishing, which I ackshully kinda really liked. I see the problem with it, but I did not close my eyes and think of Parliament. I thought of this.

Anyway, I like the new name best, and I tell you what I LOVE, I love the SLEEK G over C logo that will be on the spine of TGWSS when it releases:


Monstrously cool looking.

And in closing, I say to you, my bestest of all best beloveds in your starched pink Sunday socks: Owls yesterday, Owls tomorrow, but never Owls today.

Posted by joshilyn at March 27, 2007 7:49 AM

I think we need DebR. to Photoshop some pink socks onto the stolen owl--thus killing two birds with one stone, hehehe.

Posted by: Elena at March 27, 2007 8:18 AM

While I am nowhere near a writer now, I do believe that our word processers may have been distant cousins in the Smith-Corona family??! Mine machine in college looked like a typewriter but had a 4-5 line screen. Oftentimes when I got near the end of a paper or essay, it would go CRAZY and start deleting itself. It. Made. Me. INSANE. Otherwise it worked fine. I was so happy to drop that thing at Goodwill before our cross-country move. Ahh...

Posted by: Andrea at March 27, 2007 8:55 AM

Yes, in fact, I DO have an English degree: It word processOR, not what I wrote in my first post. :)

Posted by: Andrea at March 27, 2007 8:56 AM

I'm not sure why they changed the name at all, but if they were going to change it, I like what they picked. I would've liked JSP too. Blue Heron sounds very Zen, like it should be for self-help books with a spiritual bent or maybe for poetry.

I think you should have a contest for the best** FTK reader guess of how you acquired the sockless owl.

**Best meaning either most creative and outrageous or closest to the truth - your call. :-D

Posted by: DebR at March 27, 2007 9:04 AM

I've been wondering about saving by chapter or by whole story. Right now since I'm moving my chapters around I'm doing both. (Thank God for cheaper, bigger hard-drives and memory sticks! and GOOGLE Doc's and Spreadsheets!)

Posted by: Mit_Moi at March 27, 2007 9:14 AM

They HAD to change because HACHETTE bought Warner Book Group from TIME WARNER, and one condition of sale was to rebrand any of the imprints with WARNER in the title before 2011. :)


Posted by: joshilyn at March 27, 2007 9:54 AM

I'm putting my faith in reverse psychology. I do not even WANT to know about the owl. I am perfectly at peace with not knowing. As a matter of fact, I am specifically requesting that you NOT tell us.

Posted by: Aimee at March 27, 2007 10:41 AM

I think the GC logo looks very old skool. Maybe like something published in the 40's or 50's?? Very retro-chic. I like it.

Posted by: Melisa at March 27, 2007 10:55 AM

This post rings a pure bell with me. When I critique a manuscript, I do so in Wordpad. So far I've been able to do any format in Wordpad when I don't want to have Word, Wordperfect, and a whole slew of other programs on my computer (I critique for 5 or 6 different authors.)

The problem with Wordpad is that it doesn't have page breaks, which is exactly why I like it for editing, but that also means that it doesn't have page numbers. So while I read the book in Wordpad, I have a copy open in Word so I can pagenate my critiques. It was kind of unwieldy to begin with now it is just normal for me.

Posted by: Cele at March 27, 2007 12:10 PM

Okay, I know this is completely off topic and I'm waaayyy late to the game, but I just finished Between over the weekend. Awesome, awesome book. I have lots more I'd like to say, especially about the pit of fear in my stomach during certain climactic passages, but it would be kind of spoiler-y to those who also may not have read it yet or are new to FTK, so I'll refrain.

Posted by: Leandra at March 27, 2007 12:16 PM

I'm just exceedingly awed that you are starting the next book so soon after finishing the last one, which is coming so quickly after the second, which came so quickly after the first. Your mind must be just a bubbling froth of ideas.

Posted by: amy at March 27, 2007 1:09 PM

I am currently working on a ms, and I can not believe how many versions I have floating around. I have chapters. I have grouped chapters. I have rough chapters. I have idas that aren't anywhere near chapters. My only redeeming factor is I have all of it inside one file folder. Inside the folder, I have 10 word documents and four folders. The folders are labeled: other info, other versions, proposal, and formatted. I try to keep one complete "working copy." But I like having the rough drafts too, so if I change something and then want the original back, I can find it. I know there is a "versions" option on Word, but I've never used it. This way, I know. Plus I need somewhere to put my research on book stuff and research on agent stuff...

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at March 27, 2007 2:46 PM

I did that, too! (Chapter by chapter.) And then one day my agent cut and pasted them all together, sent them back to me in a beautiful little format, and said: We shall work this way from now on.

And he was right! It is SO much easier. So now instead of having basically two hundred bits and pieces of manuscript floating around on my hard drive (because chapter 1, of course, has multiple versions), I have only, say, 20 or 30 (Book in Progress version 1, version 2, etc.).

Plus maybe an extra 20 for, say, "Notes" and "Notes 3" and "Outline" (which never works and kind of blurs with notes so I have to open them all to find that note).

Organization works better for some people than others. I meet those some people occasionally and envy.

Posted by: Laura Florand at March 28, 2007 6:21 AM

And if you get really organized, you can put a table of contents in your file that lets you jump around from chapter to chapter instantly instead of scrolling through 200 pages.

Posted by: Linda Sherwood at March 28, 2007 11:14 AM

Don't mess with YOUR process. I, too, write in saved chapters or even just scenes and then go back and try to organize it into something resembling a novel. That ctrl+c and ctrl+v is wondrous for getting a couple of dozen chapters into one document, though it does come with an occupational hazard- your legs and a$$ will likely fall asleep before you're finished.

Posted by: Sabra at March 28, 2007 3:35 PM

I must have missed something. Or did I?

Will be putting Valeris Frankel on my to read list anyhow.

Posted by: Jas at March 29, 2007 4:26 AM

I save by chapter too. Always have. Then, when I am completely done editing, I combine them all into one document.

Posted by: Heather at March 29, 2007 2:27 PM

Whoo Boy. I remember typing on my Smith Corona . . . very slooooooowly. Erasing the mistakes with that kool looking pencil kind of eraser with the brush on it (your basic Barbie doll keeps house kind of broomstick). And, also erasing with the Cor-rec-to Type papers that came in a little matchbook sized packet. And you could even attach the packet to the side of the typewriter with the double-sided tape. . . AND THEN they came out with the typewriter tape that had it built right into it making you choose to either have a black/red tape or black/corecto-white ribbon. I soooooooooooooo very very very much wanted a Word Processor.

Posted by: jean at March 29, 2007 2:40 PM

rings diamond settings

Posted by: rings diamond eternity at April 3, 2007 1:36 AM