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Sunday, July 15, 2012

I've spent the last month rewriting Ravenswood. My editor sent it back with extensive comments and a marked-up manuscript. The problem was, she was right. Once I got my battered ego out of its hiding place in the closet, I realized she was dead on. Finally someone had pointed out exactly what I was doing wrong--a lot--and suggested ways to fix it. I set about doing just that. when I finished, my 82,000 word novel had swelled to 109,000. Yikes. Now I'm proofreading it before I send it out to two lovely volunteer proofreaders and trying to clip out a word here and there to bring it down to maybe 100,000 words. Maybe. It's a better book than it was, and I think, a better book than my first, West of Western.

Rewriting/editing fascinates me. I have a sense of discovery, as if each change shows me more of my characters, opening up new dimensions and insights. Most of my changes are in the service of making my characters more accessible to my readers. With Chicago Stories: West of Western,  I had more than one reader comment that Seraphy seemed rather distant, but I had no idea how to change that. Until my editor, Elizabeth Lyon, pointed her mighty pen at the problem. I hope the new Seraphy is more reader-friendly.

I suspect the problem is really more about me than Seraphy. I am a very reserved person. Not unfriendly or shy, just that there is much that I keep to myself--like my characters, apparently. Writing is a lot like sitting in a shrink's office--trying to figure out just what my characters are feeling and thinking and getting that out there.

We are now officially in the midst of a severe drought. Like we haven't noticed. I've christened my yard 'Mohave,' and Urbana may have to cancel its wildly popular Sweet Corn Festival for lack of corn. I  water my hostas every few days, but my grass is on its own and has mostly gone dormant. For the first time I can remember, the old-fashioned lilies have turned yellow and look like they're dying. I don't think anything short of a neutron bomb can kill those suckers, so I assume they'll will return with the rain. If it ever rains. They say its the hottest year ever recorded and the future will be worse. I can't understand how anyone can still deny global warning.Not that the earth will die or anything like that, Mother Earth has seen much, much worse. We haven't. Yet.