Thursday, September 05, 2013

Surprise, Surprise!

Two different kinds of surprise to relate ...

My lovely spouse went to visit a friend recently, a woman who had several plum trees in her yard, and who wished to share the fruit.

Plum season is pretty much passed locally, so the friend had rendered the overripe plums and turned them into plum juice, which has some use. (Think: Prune juice ...)

Wife had a gallon or so of the stuff in a couple of containers inside a carrier in the back of her car. 

The lids to the containers were not affixed very well ...

You see where this is going, don't you? (And if you do, it is because I wrote it in such a way as to provide hints without saying it directly, which will speak to my second surprise in a few moments.)

Back to the car:

So I'm writing away and my wife arrives and allows, in a somewhat unhappy manner, as how the back of her car is the recipient of much plum juice.

Took almost three hours to blot and use the rug shampooer extension to get it all up. It soaked through the dog blanket and carpet, the carpeted top of the jack compartment, and seeped around edges into the carpet under the jack compartment. The sun was shining brightly, which was good and bad. Good, because once we were done, it dried things up nicely; bad, because we were mostly in the sun scrubbing away.

Note to self, and anybody who might find themselves in a potentially similar situation: When transporting sticky, sugary liquids, be certain that the container won't leak if it falls over whilst in transit inside your automobile ...

The other surprise is more pleasant: I am doing the rewrite on the first draft of the current WIP, the third and final Cutter's Wars novel. Should be done by maybe Monday. Late, but not fatally so, and happy I am to be nearly finished. (And the galleys for the previous novel, The Vastalimi Gambit, have just moments ago arrived in my in-box, and need be attended to, as well.)

As I go through the text, I am sometimes struck by the impulse to add a phrase, to clarify or clean up a line or graph. Part of rewriting is to do that. A quick example: The enemy troops, using the cover of hard rain and wind delivered by a hurricane, are trying to sneak a sapper team up the hill. Our Vastalimi fighter Kay, out to fix a sensor that has stopped working and thus missed the enemy, spots the sappers and after knocking off a couple, calls for assistance. Gunny arrives with grenadiers, and they give the sappers reason to rethink their plan.

Kay allows as how the sappers know they have been spotted and are probably retreating.

The line was: "You heard the fem. Eighty and walk 'em."

By which Gunny means that the grenadiers are to lay down a pattern of explosions eighty meters down the hill, which is, not coincidentally, where the sappers are.

So, reading that line, I thought it would be a tad better to add a word at the end, making the line, "You heard the fem. Eighty and walk 'em down." Since the sappers are probably leaving.

The grenade launchers go off, the bad weather makes the targeting less than optimum, they correct their aim, yadda, yadda, yadda.  

But then, four lines after my correction, a line ends thus: "the shooters corrected their aim and walked the pattern downward." 

Which they would know to do, right?

I had, in the draft, already spoken to that thing I wanted to clarify, i.e., the direction of the moving grenade impacts, and while there are times to repeat a thing for effect, mostly you don't want the same words popping up in close proximity too often, so you need to say it but once, and if it needs to be emphasized, recast the phrase slightly, for variety. 

My present editor forgets what my past editor did, and he adds or subtracts and finds momentarily that the past has anticipated the present. Because he is more or less the same and he tends to see the same things that need to be fixed. But forgets I already did it. 

You write something you think sharpens or make something a bit more clever, and then a few lines down, you realize you are fixing something that isn't broken. This usually makes me smile when I realize that the me from a few days or weeks ago is at least as smart as the me of today ...

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