November 4th, 2010

if I were me

Mer versus the Copy Edit

(Blue*) blood on the first page: remark one is a stet. But my editor wrote a note saying she supported a stet if I felt it stettable. That was like "permission granted!" in my world.

I was so disoriented from this that I just threw post-it flags on the next two things that weren't about commas (I comma like I'm a freaking Klecha, apparently) and moved on to page 1. (More commas. A rephrasing I thoroughly agreed with.)

Page three. Hyphen removal? Yes, of course. But. The word "only" removed from a sentence?

I am actually now looking at sentences and diagnosing them down to a level that I had never really considered. The word "only" does not materially affect the meaning of the sentence. It may, in some regard, be superfluous. It is--possibly--wrong, though I can't see how. (Not that this means anything. I'm grammar-blind. I have a good ear, and I believe everything I learned in 8th grade, but if I didn't learn it then, I'm terrible about amending my understanding now. Especially if the understanding gets in the way of my experience of the voice.)

"She looked so calm and regal, it was hard to remember that she'd been Princess Consort for only two years, ever since she was thirteen."

ETA: I have just changed the whole sentence completely. The only is back out. Ever is back out. Why does this make sense in the morning? and it doesn't at night?

I keep taking out the "only." It's so not necessary for meaning. And yet it is innately, gut-levelly important to that sentence to me. I feel ridiculous. I don't parse things like other people do. I could diagram it, but it wouldn't mean more to me. But I can say it aloud, and aloud, it's just plain wrong without the word "only."

OMG, I'm on page three, and I've spent twenty-five minutes (including typing up this entry) on the word "only."

I put down a stet. I have the power to stet! Stet-I-can!

(When (if) you read this sentence in the future, please... don't think of what you witnessed here tonight.)

I left the rest of page three alone, though I witnessed:

-a hyphen massacre (it encourages the others);
-something my editor stetted for me, tyvm
-"sadly" changed to "still" which is a local teen vernacular thing my stepdaughter does and it's good someone excised it from my writing
-a comment on time that was just a comment

Page four. And here's where I've really done my best work today, and no, we're not talking about the first thing on page four, which is flagging something to come back to later where the fix would either throw off the voice or cause word rep.

"She stabbed the spit-hardened thread through the needle's eye and bent her head to continue sewing."

CE's note: "spitting on a thread doesn't really harden it, just makes it cohere so individual fibers don't block threading; maybe spit-sharpened?"

Now, of course, no one who sews spits ON thread; you run it between your lips after wetting it in your mouth, but by god, explain THAT in less than two words or risk boring everyone on earth to DEATH, even people who don't read your work. The sentence as a whole is, at best, competent and workmanlike, and I think "to continue sewing" and I are going to have words later, but... triumph! "Spit-smoothed" is the word that I want. Not "spit-hardened." Nor "spit-sharpened." "Spit-smoothed."

Oh, yeah.

Now we're cooking.

Almost a quarter of the way down page four.

Yeah. This train is unstoppable.


* My pencil is blue. I had to steal a colored pencil from my stepdaughter, and blue hasn't been used, so blue is what I have.