No Credits for Edits

T-editing.600x350This is Ted’s idea of Editing… looking closely at himself from a different view

Sometimes when I’m ‘moodling’ I dream of those days of innocence when I simply wrote as I felt… having searched the deepest recesses of my grey matter, collected and written down my memories – all in my own words, just the way they emerged. I would scribble away, making a few corrections, giving consideration to improving some words, but basically going with the flow. Most of what flowed easily into my brain, flowed equally simply out of my pencil.  Sounds fine… so far.

Yes but – it’s all very well when you are speaking those words, or writing them to a friend, or making smart comments on Facebook and the like… even writing here, in my truly ‘own’ website. BUT… if I wish to improve and impress and not bore the pants off my reader, there are a mob of rules to check and accept (however unwillingly), causing a  return to the drawing board – over and over again, as more is learned of what should NOT be said. Ahh-hh, but it hurts sometimes – especially when the ‘no-no’ words are many of the ones that roll out of my brain so easily. Why is it so? (… maybe almost 7 decades of practice are to blame?)

Dear old favourites like ‘just’ and ‘always’ and ‘kind of’ and ‘of course’ and ‘really’ and ‘used to’ – plus some 40+ others are on my list. ‘Delete’ them I am told; ‘replace’ with fresher, more relevant words; ‘over-used’ I am advised; ‘check your Thesaurus’, they say (as if I don’t already? THEY should see the worn-out ‘L’ key on my second replacement keyboard for this computer, due to overuse along with Ctrl to take me to Dictionary.com and its Thesaurus.   It’s not that I can’t spell, I am besotted with finding the correct word – and that it be in English/English spelling in lieu of US/English). There are also all the old similes like ‘running around like a fart in a pickle jar’ – and adages like ‘hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ – and DON’T use ‘like’, Christine! Oh yes, and watch those exclamation marks – no more than one, and keep those dashes to a minimum, too, and never underline and italicise and/or bold the same word for emphasis… it’s an overkill.

As if all this is not enough – true old has-been touch-typist that I am – I want to hit two spaces after a full-stop, but with today’s technology, one is the rule. I’m improving, but the moment I relax, two spaces are likely to pop up their ugly heads once again. And how have I agonised over the ellipsis ( … ) and its correct spacing. I have chosen from several conflicting opinions and I am sticking with it like this… (which means three dots at the end of the word and one space afterwards). All of my previous writing must be checked and double-checked for these things.

Throughout all this tweaking and nit-picking, I must somehow keep my individual and unique ‘voice’ and style. What a tightrope this one proves to be when I am writing my farming memoirs and trying desperately to stay true to the feeling of a simpler life in those long ago days, learning and working in the wide open spaces. It is extremely difficult with so much emotional investment in these memories, and yet… I read my earlier ‘stuff’ and I am feeling proud of the improvements I am achieving today. I’m sure, when I look back over my shoulder tomorrow, I will continue to find ways to improve my work – but for now, I’m happy, knowing I’m achieving the best I’m capable of at this time.

I don’t know if you are interested or not, but here is the process I’m doing just now (although I no longer have this particular one in its original pencil written form… it’s somewhere… I think!)

First is the typed up (and first time typo/spelling checked edition) –

Did you know their manure pellets don’t smell bad, because sheep are herbivores? And the background perfume ‘note’ to this mixture owes its own complex charm to the addition of the odd fume or three of diesel emanating from the motor powering the shearing machine and the shearers’ handpieces.

Mentioning lanolin – with all the toughness and roughness of shearers, you would not believe just how soft and smooth their hands were, thanks to this lanolin in the wool. They had hands any lady would openly admire and secretly covet – maybe the one and only ‘softness’ about shearers?

I had an interesting attempt at ‘throwing’ a fleece – wherein I actually threw myself with it. The idea is to pick up the fleece in a magical, secret way so it can then be ‘thrown’ to spread over the wool sorting table. This is a large steel framed table covered with broad cyclone wire – wherein the magic happens. It lands perfectly spread out over the whole depth and breadth of the table. This trick is demonstrated many times, but remains a secret to some of us forever. I tried… and tried. I failed dismally as everyone watched and laughed. I blushed profusely, and retreated post-haste to my Kitchen and consoled myself with thinking about my secret and magical cooking prowess they couldn’t begin to know or perform!

The point of throwing the fleece and having it fall correctly is so it can then be ‘skirted’ – which is to have all the rough and dirty outside bits pulled off and discarded into a special pile. Then the fleece (still hanging together, amazingly) was rolled and folded and gathered into a bundle and put into the huge wool bag hanging in the wool press. In those days, the old Ajax Handpress was operated by brute manpower pressure on two levers, applied determinedly several times. The resulting compaction of the wool into 200kg. bales, enabled them to be ready for delivery to the wool stores.

Then the first hand-edit –

editing

and the computerised first edit – ready for more action –

Their manure pellets barely smell, because sheep are herbivores. The background perfume ‘note’ to this concoction owes its own complex charm to the addition of the odd fume or three of diesel emanating from the motor powering the shearing machine and the oil from the shearers’ handpieces, as they heat up with the pace.

Mentioning lanolin – despite the toughness and roughness of shearers,  their hands are soft and smooth, thanks to the lanolin in the wool – hands any lady would openly admire and secretly covet, maybe the one and only ‘softness’ about shearers?

I had an interesting attempt at ‘throwing’ a fleece – wherein I actually threw myself with it. The idea is to pick up the fleece in a magical, secret way so it can then be ‘thrown’ to spread over the wool sorting table. This is a large round steel framed table with open steel rungs on top, cunningly spaced so the fleece doesn’t fall through. In the hands of almost everyone else the fleece lands perfectly spread out over the whole depth and breadth of the table. This trick was demonstrated to me many times, but remains a secret to some of us forever. I tried… and tried. I failed dismally as everyone watched and laughed. I blushed profusely, and retreated post-haste to my Kitchen and consoled myself with thoughts of my secret and magical cooking prowess they couldn’t begin to know or perform!

The point of throwing the fleece and having it fall correctly is to ‘skirt’ it, removing and discarding the rough and dirty outside bits. The fleece (still hanging together, amazingly) is rolled and folded and gathered into a bundle and put into a huge wool bag hanging in the wool press. In those days, the old Ajax Handpress was operated by brute manpower pressure on two levers, applied determinedly several times. The resulting compaction of the wool into 200kg. bales, readied them for handling and delivery to the wool stores.

 Now here’s the problem – the famous Stephen King, in his exceptionally valuable book ‘On Writing’, recommended a formula he was given early in his career –  one he lives by to this day.  It is 2nd edit = 1st edit – 10%.       Uh-oh… I’ve only achieved 5 less words in this excerpt! I will console myself that I have added much more to the tale, and I will be much tougher by the 2nd edit! Hmm-mm… in dreams, maybe?

Bashful

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