Please enjoy while I go back to my edits.
I have this week to myself by day, except for Toots, of course.
Grandma has left town.
The boys have been out of town long enough to get over the ‘what am I to do with myself besides miss them’ feeling.
Between Sesame Street in the morning and the prayed for naptime in the afternoon, I may actually be able to work more on edits on the manuscript, and with some consistency, so that’s my plan.
Sorry, it’s not very entertaining, but it is a good plan.
Wish me luck! Especially considering Toots is now actively potty training.
…you can frustrate me:
1. my new printer won’t communicate with my computer, so I can’t print out the edits I did at writing group to read and redline a bit more by pages in hand.
2. you come to me in fits and starts while occupying half my concentration all the time.
…you make me do cartwheels, figuratively speaking, of course:
1. I love a new idea, it makes my heart race and my arms want to write or type in that very moment to the exclusion of all else. I get that tingly feeling like a teen falling in love.
2. I love rewriting, reworking, getting it right.
3. (Please let there be a 3 so the positive side can win today.) That netherworld feeling of one foot here, in the house with the kids and the laundry, and one foot there, in my imagination with my character and his family and friends and dog. This week has been hovering around 100 degrees outside and in my manuscript, it’s Thanksgiving in New England – bare trees, the beginnings of snow, nose reddening winds.
Ah, thank you writing, for the cool, cool breeze!
I may be a little late on this, but I don’t think anytime is a bad time to celebrate my personal favorite book of all time. This year marks the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
I read this book every summer from the summer I was eight years old, admittedly an early age for the material, but I was more caught up with the stories of Scout, Jem, Dill and Boo than I was with the courtroom. I read it every summer until I was twenty-four. I know, because I remember where I was that summer, reading it, the smells around me mingling with the smells in the book. I can smell that stifling chicken wire ham costume right now. and the Wrigley’s Double Mint gum in the tree, and Calpurnia’s breakfast. I have read it periodically since, and always in the summer. When I was a kid reading it, I saw Atticus as a distant yet caring father with a lot on his mind. The main thing I got from the book, was what Atticus taught them not just by his words but by his actions.
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
You do what is right, because it is the right thing to do.
You treat people with respect, no matter who they are, because respect is what you’ll get if you do. And mostly, because it is the right thing to do.
Just because you can shoot a gun better than anyone else in the county, doesn’t mean you go around showing off about it.
And you help those who can’t help themselves, because it is the right thing to do.
There’s plenty more. The book is full of wisdom, beauty, life in a microcosm shedding light on humanity as a whole. An excellent story on every level and there are many, and the writing is so good, straight and simple, I can cry from the opening line.
When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
I know it, because I’ve read it so many times, but the whole of that tale is held in that sentence. You feel it when you read it even for the first time. You know immediately, something is up, and it’s big. You just may not know how big it is til you get to it, but it is big.
I think I got my lifetime sense of needing to right the wrongs in this world from reading this book so many times and from such a young age. I may not have really known what the courtroom stuff was about specifically, but I knew it was wrong to lie and accuse an innocent person of something that was clearly bad. I knew it was wrong for that mob of neighbors to come to Tom Robinson’s jail cell in the cover of night.
What I love more than anything about this book is Scout’s growth. Narrator Scout tells of her own growth through her childhood fallibility. She shows how hard it is and how simple it is to see wrong and make it right. How hard it is to be wrong and have to admit it. And how much easier the world comes to you once you accept how you’re wrong, and do what you can to change it.
I could go on. I can talk about the kid’s adventures, Boo’s real gentleness. I can talk about ‘a sin to kill a mockingbird’, the rabid dog, the relatives, the house burning down, the sitting with the sick old Mrs. Dubose for penance. I can talk about pies, pants caught on garden fence, and the collection tin at Calpurnia’s church. I can talk about Atticus’s perceptive defense of Tom, the nervous trapped cat sense of Mayella, the snobby relatives, Walter Cunningham, fights, squabbles, making up, and the big brother saving the life of his sister with the help of a ghost of a man everyone fears. I can talk about kids and trains, and a sense of belonging we all long for and think we can find in a simpler time that was never so simple after all.
But mostly I can go read again (and suggest you may want to, too) the most simple, complex, learning tale of a girl, her father, a small town, and the need for justice. Simple elegant justice, and how even when it seems so simple, so elegantly right, it can still go wrong, because we all, after all, are human, and still learning.
These are just getting started in my little garden plot. It’s so hot, even they are seeking shade. Cukes and zukes are apparently much smarter than I am, since I went out in the sun and 100 degree heat to take pictures of them.
I am still slogging through my manuscript edits during my writing group sessions. Today was another. It had been suggested that I remove a parental rescue from a scene at school and I did. I didn’t like doing it, because I liked how the original scene filled out the mother and the nurse characters, but since this is a book about a kid, for kids, maybe I shouldn’t have something like a parental rescue scene at that particular point. Maybe the adult characters don’t need that much fleshing out. Maybe I better just let things be and try to keep him out of a particular moment of trouble a different way. I think I managed to, but not as I would have hoped.
I miss the nuances of that scene. I think my least favorite thing about editing is the cuts. I worked a lot on that scene over years. I liked it, but once again, just because I liked it doesn’t mean that it was good for the book. I think the scene I have now, shortened, is more to the point of the scene’s purpose. And that’s a good thing.
In the meantime, I know the whole East Coast is having a heat wave right now, but I’ll tell, it is tough to be outside in my corner of Virginia these days. My poor little gardens are feeling it, and so is the lawn, or the scorched prickly earth that used to be the lawn.
Boys are not here for closing in on a week now. This makes me a bit crabby. Not the best of moods to be editing out scenes I like and dealing with this infernal heat. I’d rather be outside gardening, but it’s too dang hot. Guess I’ll have to take out my frustrations by trimming bushes later.
Thieving Bunny got through my fence last week and enjoyed my newly ripe tomatoes right off the plants.
I was apoplectic. I cursed him on facebook. I referred to him as a “scorbutical bucktoothed cur!” Captain Comic cracked up about this epithet to no end. He is probably still wandering around at his father’s house giggling himself silly and repeating it with his fist raised at the sky.
Grandma was agog and aghast at his little bunny chutzpah in hopping up on the deck to peer through the slider to see what the humans were up to.
Under other circumstances of the non-gardening defense variety, I watched his cute little bunniness hop around the yard. He was a joyous little bunny. I chased him down one day to discover his rabbit hole in my fence. I placed a concrete block in front of it the morning of the boys’ journey to their father.
Apparently he had another rabbit hole somewhere, because, today, while watering various garden patches and flowering bushes around our little homestead, I encounter the furry remains of Thieving Bunny between the yew and the chewed remains of the butterfly bush I planted this spring.
Lucy the Terrorizing Terrier finally earned her keep. She is the little black dog of rodent death. She has played solo doggie badminton with moles in the past, gleefully flipping them in the air by her jaws and whapping at them with her paws across the yard. She has brought moles and voles into the house as gifts, but this was her first rabbit kill.
I am at once proud of our little dog and mourning the bunny death. I love bunnies. I mean, I really love bunnies. I love bunnies just shy of having a houseful of bunny figurines. Admittedly there are a few tasteful and funky ones about the premises. My nickname pre-braces was Bugs. I love carrots, I have a true affinity with the universal bunny energy.
But Thieving Bunny ate my tomatoes. He crossed the line in terrier territory.
This is so joyous, I cried. How many joys can be counted in it?
1. The man quit his job to dance badly around the world.
2. He dances. badly. and is proud of it.
3. People join him throughout the world.
4. They clearly love the spontaneity.
5. When he gets hit with a massive wave, the camera woman giggles.
6. He dances in the guardhouse of the Korean Demilitarized Zone.
7. He dances with so many different people from Papua New Guinea to Paris.
8. At first glance, the people seem so different, but
9. Every single one is smiling
10. And dancing with whole heart.
11. He dances even when alone.
12. The music.
I’m certain I have not counted all the joys contained in this video, but one I can relate to is dancing badly alone, because I relatively regularly tap dance in my kitchen, to the goofy dismay of my older kids. I do it because dancing is a joy, whether anyone is there to watch me or not. It’s freedom, it’s exercise, it’s motion and alchemy. It instantly lifts my mood.
And you know what? I haven’t done it nearly enough recently.
I must now. Enjoy the video! Then Dance.
If you’re having trouble viewing, please click to Where the Hell is Matt? and watch the first video. The others are good for background about the process he went through making it.