Novel Update–Hi All!–Criss-crossed Tracks


Hi all!

An update from novel land (that is, the Great Mo-heavy Desert of the not-quite-finished manuscript.)


I am, at least, in the clean-up process.  I’ve fixed, as well as I can, the weak beginning–that is, I’ve brought in, at an earlier point, threads that are important to the story and its context (1968) that I hope will make the beginning more compelling.  Also reduced the “ick factor.”

Shortened the end–the last bits had dragged on endlessly.

Given up the idea of major structural revision, i.e. let go of aiming for a scintilla of momentum.

Now, I’m stuck in almost random, despairing, desultory, always looking for distraction, copyediting.  (Also trying to weed out extra words–all those, oh’s, wells, so’s, that people actually use in speech but that weigh down dialogue.)

This involves, among other things, some application of the rules of comma usage.  (Yes, I know a lot of people don’t bother with comma usage in poetry for all kinds of artistic reasons, but this is not that poetic a novel.)

Which means I have to remember the rules of comma usage.  (God forbid I would just look them up.)

Comma usage makes one (if one is me) acutely conscious of the seep, like that weird maroon or yellow liquid that sometimes leaks out from under a refrigerator,  of dementia.

As in, comma usage seems to be one of the first things to have totally gone.

Perhaps this is because I never truly had comma usage under my belt.  Unlike certain parts of the multiplication tables, which I drilled enough to be able to spit out in my sleep.   (Unfortunately, I have not been able to fit six times six anywhere into my text.)

When it comes to comma usage the whole thing feels more like, let’s say– eight times seven— a multiple I always had a hard time with, or fourteen times four, which is one I never even tried to learn–this is all quite remarkable because when I do fixate on those multiples I end up with–.

But let’s not go there.

Anyway, I thank you all so much for your encouragement.

PS — the despair also comes from the fact that one gets so bored, tired, can never be pleased, finds so much awkwardness,  whole damn passages that can’t even be fixed by corrected commas!

Also, if you can’t remember or never knew the rules of comma usage, you keep changing them in your mind–does that mean you have to go back and change what you’ve already finished?

PPS – (Can’t stand to look at it any more; must go through it one more time.)

(Oh come on, shouldn’t you just scrap the whole thing!?)

(Maybe you should just scrap the whole thing?)

(Oh stop it!)

(Should there be commas before those ‘ohs?’)


(Hey, shouldn’t that be ‘ugh?’)

(But I like ‘agh–’)

(she says, in anguish.)

Photo above is of two different kinds of animal tracks crossing in snow.  As always, click on it if you can’t see it all–also all rights reserved.

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19 Comments on “Novel Update–Hi All!–Criss-crossed Tracks”

  1. janehewey Says:

    A real interior commentary from the mind of a novelist! Sounds like you are on the right track. 🙂 ) When I first heard that writers take up to 5 years to write a novel. I stopped considering writing one myself. Not that I ever seriously considered, but just to confirm that I wouldn’t.
    I am glad to hear you are making progress. I’ve heard editing is the most tedious part of the job. May the power of the comma nourish your endeavors!
    I enjoy your photo. Can you decipher whose tracks they are?

  2. Steve King Says:

    Delightful venting of frustration–delightful, at least, to the reader (do I have those commas right?). Copy editing is no fun, but it’s shocking to discover how many superfluous words one puts in a piece of prose. Looking forward to more commentary as the process unfolds.
    Steve K.

  3. claudia Says:

    smiles… i always set a comma when i feel there should be one…but ok…that won’t work in novel writing… one reason why i prefer poetry…ha… but honestly – i would develop and write the story first and bother about the commas later – just my two cents…

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha. Agreed. The novel is long written– meaning the main writing done a while ago. I don’t know what happened to the punctuation. Some I didn’t do right and some I think disappeared in transferring from different softwares.


  4. Brian Miller Says:

    i use punctuation when i need it…
    editting is not fun, so i don not envy you
    i had a humorous book i read once called the grouchy gramarian or something like that…i learned a lot from it but…oy

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    Better you than me, girl! See I *knew* writing novels was torture. I think, in my small experience of editing and the rewrite, that it is pitifully easy to get drawn into minutiae that often has very low relative impact on the totality. Yes, a comma can make a vast difference to the meaning of a phrase, but, otoh, no one phrase will ever be the making or breaking of a work as large as a novel. I would think editing that kind of thing would need a whole different, wider, sort of eye. As I said–better you than me. ;_) Good luck K–you have come too far to give up now, so I know you will make to the finish line, even if by then you are gasping for air and blithering out the multiplication tables in French or something. ;_)

    • hedgewitch Says:

      PS. It really sounds like you have made tremendous amount of progress. Congratulations!

      • ManicDdaily Says:

        Thanks. Most of it was written a long time ago. My main progress has just been accepting it for what it is. But I am almost there. I’ve been very dilatory today–but will hope to focus more tonight before work week starts. Thanks again for your very kind support. k.

  6. You are making wonderful progress! way to go!!!!!

  7. Lindy Lee Says:

    “Comma usage” seems to have changed drastically, much freedom of choice in today’s writings. As for editing, I know you, like I, have come across some blatant errors made by some of the most popular best sellers. Good luck with poetic license. It is your book, after all. Correct? You have a fine writing style…

  8. Kay Davies Says:

    I like “agh” and just finished mentioning that fact on Facebook.
    I don’t have any editing software, but I’ve done a lot of copyediting in my day. If you get bogged down, maybe I can help somehow.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ha, thanks so much. I appreciate the offer more than you know. I am really almost there. At least with this stage. It’s really more cutting out extra words than anything else. Just too many of them! k.

      • Kay Davies Says:

        Well, I’m pretty good at that, too. I edited my dad’s three books, and several on varying topics when a friend had a (mostly) woodworking book publishing company in the 90s.
        Let me know if you think of any way you can put me to use.

  9. Helen Says:

    If I ponder on comma useage too long, I risk comma coma! Keep on trucking!

  10. After a few years my writing buddy and I started referring to our novels in progress as “the damn book!” It is SO HARD! Hang in their, dear novelist! You write beautifully.

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