Copywriting: ‘Leave My Prose Alone’

An interesting look at copyediting, written by Carol Fisher Saller.

pencil004“Leave My Prose Alone:”
The Resistant Writer

“Please tell the copyeditor to leave my prose alone.” That’s an actual author request I encountered in a newly arrived manuscript. I looked at the first few pages. The content was complex, phrasing idiosyncratic, punctuation random.
A more mature and compassionate person would have recognized a writer who’d been frightened and damaged by a previous copyediting experience. That person would have recommended assigning him to an especially sensitive manuscript editor—perhaps to my colleague who adopts greyhounds. Instead, in a huff, I suggested we fling that puppy to our most junior assistant for a once-over typo check….

Read the rest here.

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‘America Writes Home’

mailbox2America Writes Home is a website with a wonderful collection of some existing pre-1920s letters, giving a flavor of that time before iPhones and email.

They are indexed by state, for the most part. Really fun to poke around in. So many stories!

Do you have old letters? Have you thought about how to preserve them so others, now or in the future, can enjoy and learned from them too? There are suggestions at this website.

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Selling The Book

MoneyThis Wall Street Journal article How Authors Move Their Own Merchandise, by Joanne Kaufman, is about how much effort writers put into marketing — selling — their own books these days. It’s out of necessity; the publishing world has changed a lot.

It starts:

To gin up sales for her 2009 essay collection “Bad Mother,” Ayelet Waldman rewarded those who preordered the book with such lagniappes as a donation to a scholarship fund or a copy of a novel by her husband, Michael Chabon. “I think all of that got ‘Bad Mother’ on the New York Times best-seller list,” Ms. Waldman said.

Ayelet Waldman is one author who has learned the benefits of giveaways and social networking.

Eager for lightning to strike twice, she began working the Facebook rolls before last summer’s publication of her novel “Red Hook Road.” Those who preordered (or sent an email explaining their lack of interest in preordering) were entered into a drawing to win an iPod loaded with music thematic to the book. Read more

My favorite is the part about the writer who put up a slideshow on his Facebook page. It showed famous people reading his novel. I just love that. Watch for that when I’m peddling a novel one day.

Read the whole article here.

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Remembering & Being Remembered

sandStefani Twyford is a video biographer in Houston, and she is also a wonderful writer and thinker. I just rediscovered her blog post about an African proverb, and it haunts me a little bit:

…The proverb recognizes two spirits. “Sasha are spirits known by someone still alive, while Zamani are spirits not known by someone currently alive.” According to James Loewen in his book Lies My Teacher Told Me: “The recently departed whose time overlapped with people still here are the Sasha, the living dead. They are not wholly dead, for they live on in the memories of the living … when the last person knowing an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the Sasha for the Zamani, the dead.”

Walsh’s use of the proverb was in illustrating the power of oral and personal history. As a Personal Historian, I spend a lot of time educating people on the power and value of leaving your story for future generations. As long as people are alive and can pass your stories on to future generations, you will retain some degree of immortality. But like the game Telephone, each iteration of the story becomes less and less reliable and more anecdotal until what is left after a few generations is, if you are lucky, merely a name on a genealogical chart and some mention of characteristics… Read the rest

“When the last person knowing an ancestor dies, that ancestor leaves the Sasha for the Zamani, the dead.” Wow. It’s a powerful way of thinking. And it does make you think about keeping track of your family stories. Ask about them, and then write them down!

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Glued To The Screen

p8125460Here is a great reminder of just one of the reasons we should take the time to document, in one way or another, our personal stories – and, especially, those of our elder family members.

It’s personal historian Stanley Dalnekoff describing the first time his client’s family watched the two-hour audiovisual personal history he created about the grandfather:

The first viewing of the production at his home was in front of his wife, children, and two of his grandchildren. The most interesting reaction was that of his grandchildren who sat fascinated. They had heard some of his tales over the years but for the first time they were able to get a true picture of just what an incredibly resilient and fascinating person their grandfather is. They also received a lesson on how one can survive in the most difficult circumstances and indeed find the strength to thrive. Indeed this is the legacy he is handing down to future generations of his family. They, in turn, now have a physical record  to hand down to their offspring. Read the rest

Our histories are so easily lost track of, and what a shame that is every time it happens.

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Moving The Books: Many Hands DO Make Light Work

picture-1-22-27-24Kohala people are really a smart and capable bunch, and they always have been. Some 1500 years ago, they formed a human chain, many miles long, and passed stones from Pololu Valley, person to person, to where would be built Mo‘okini Heiau.

Archaeologists know this because Pololu is where the stones of Mo‘okini Heiau originated, and also because there is evidence of stones having been dropped along the way.

And now, their descendants and others have proven the practicality of the approach. Over the weekend, they formed a mile-long chain of people and passed more than 15,000 books and other items from the Bond Memorial Public Library to the community’s newly constructed library building, the North Kohala Public Library.

The books were passed, hand-to-hand, for over a mile and then settled into the new library building. It was all completed in a day.

I love this and wish I could have been a part of it.

Sometimes the old ways really are the best.

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A Double, No Trouble, Hubbell Bubble

Today I solved Problem Chicken. Problem, “Can’t Let The New Puppy Run Around Because She Will Kill The Hens.”

I got myself a Hubbell Bubble.

This all started with Mike and Liz Hubbell, who live in Puna, building themselves a chicken enclosure. Mike figured out an economical and fairly simple way to build one, and the result so impressed someone from the College of Tropical Ag here that the college is helping them promote it for local backyard chicken farmers. They call it the Hubbell Bubble.

I half got it because of the name. Well, not really, but I do love the name.

Mike and Liz have made the plans available, for free. Or if you pay for parts, they will build you one (they do it at home, in panels) and then bring it and put it up for you a small charge. It is very generous of them, and they do amazing work.

I only first talked to them about this two or three days ago, and then this morning they drove up with all the parts (which they built at home yesterday) on a trailer. I can’t believe how fast it all happened. I love how fast it all happened.

Here is my dog saying, “Will you PLEASE get those chickens put away so I am not tempted to eat them and I can get OUT of here?” I say, “Soon, soon.”

(She is a very happy dog despite everything and wasn’t forlorn, as she seems in this photo. She never looks forlorn. She is a sweet happy puppy. Also, she does get out of there to play. And she has a very cozy sleeping area next door there for nighttime. But she will be happy to be out, free-range, with the other dogs again.)

We had an open-air coop we were using for the hens, but needed to move it. This picture below is of Mike.

Here (below) is here we were heading with it. It’s a level spot my husband made awhile back for our daughter’s swimming pool. The coop wasn’t as hard to move as we had all feared.

Here’s the coop in its new place. The chickens kept a close eye on what was going on all morning. They talked about it a lot, too. Where were we going with their coop? What was the meaning of all this?

Mike and Liz putting the already-made panels into place around the coop.

We had to sacrifice a banana tree to make room for this project, and we left it there inside the chicken enclosure because chickens like eating stuff like that. That’s what that is, on the ground, inside there. It’s kind of messy looking. You wouldn’t want a messy chicken coop.

Framework for the top. The “bubble,” as it were.

It didn’t take long at all to get to the finished product! I present to you:

The Hubbell Bubble.

finished-hubbell-bubble

It’s a Double Hubbell Bubble, actually. I decided we needed it to be 12 x 24, instead of the standard 12 x 12 they sometimes build. Our chickens need space.

We still need to put gravel down on the weed cloth along the edges. Chain link extends out from the bottom for a bit, and then there is weed cloth atop it, and then there will be gravel to hold that all down. This will keep out the mongooses and the dogs. That’s the idea.

We are very happy with my new Double, No Trouble, Hubbell Bubble. We just love it.

Here’s an early adopter of the new chicken accomodations.

“The girls” are roosting in there tonight for the first time. I’m really happy with their new Hubbell Bubble and hope they are too.

You can read more about the Hubbell Bubble at Liz’s blog. Don’t panic if you read the part about dogs breaking into their own chicken yard and killing some of their chickens. That happened, they are careful to explain, because they had modified their original design in a way that, it turns out, wasn’t a good idea. They aren’t doing that anymore.

I didn’t know the Hubbells before arranging to have them build and put up my Bubble, so you can rest assured I’m telling you about this only because we’re so happy with it.

They are very generous with their know-how, energy and help for others who want to raise some of their own food, and take care of their own needs. Neat people and it was great to meet them.

If you’d like to know more, or you’d like your own, you can reach Mike and Liz at 965-8235.

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Christopher Kimball & The Troll

kimballI have been on Christopher Kimball‘s email list for years, and though I don’t live in New England and I don’t have time right now to cook the wonderful foods he writes about, it’s great writing and I always take time to read it.

He is, according to Wikipedia, the bow-tie wearing founder, editor, and publisher of Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country magazines, and formerly publisher of the now defunct Cook’s Magazine. I know him from Cook’s Illustrated — what a neat magazine that is. Here’s his Christopher Kimball blog. And I love reading his occasional emails, which talk about the sugar season in Vermont and relay charming small-town stories.

This is a funny, timely, small-town story that came in his email today. Could it be true? He represents it as though it is. And of course it could be — people are crazy.

Back in Vermont, here is a recent story that sounds completely made up. A resident of a nearby town is very well liked but more than a little crazy and a bit of a drinker—you never know what he will do next. His wife came home one day and noticed that he looked a bit shaken. He said, “I caught a troll!” and proceeded to lead her upstairs. When they got to the bedroom, she heard a voice from the closet shouting, “Let me out! Let me out!” Well, he had all sorts of furniture stacked up against the door to keep the troll in. Once the way was cleared, she found a very pleasant, rather short gentleman in disarray, shaken after having spent a few hours locked up inside. He was working for the U.S. Census, had rung the bell, and, as soon as the door had opened, the husband had somehow mistaken him for a troll, spiriting him upstairs. No word yet on the impending lawsuit.

My favorite sentence in this bit is: “…as soon as the door had opened, the husband had somehow mistaken him for a troll, spiriting him upstairs.”

I cannot think of anything else to say about this, except: Thanks for the good laugh!

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