Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Editor: a metaphor

I'm watching an author working on a new book, and I'm realizing it feels a bit like helping a child learn to ride a bike. It's that same feeling of WANTING to be able to help, to be able to somehow give precise instructions about exactly how to conquer something that seems so daunting at the outset, but realizing that mostly all you can do is run along on the sidelines, keeping pace and cheering loudly. Cheering even more loudly in spite of false starts and pitfalls and skinned knees. Cheering through the spots where it seems like it would be much easier just to say, "But I can't!!" and give up. And then, watching the wheels begin to turn, sloooowly, and the wobbles begin and knowing, even if the author doesn't at this very moment, that the wobbling is, actually, a very very early stage of mastery.

And between you and me? When this author has finished writing her story (I know she'll get there!), I bet you'll never be able to guess there was any wobbling at all!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poetry Friday: Apostrophe to the Apostrophe

As an editor, I'm somewhat naturally over-sensitive to grammar and punctuation; in truth, I'm the kind of person who, I admit, is pained when I run out of characters to punctuate my text messages or twitter updates. And yet, I have a love-hate, contentious sort of feeling about the apostrophe. The one in my last name causes endless complications when it's inadvertently left out--or when it's unexpectedly (if correctly) inserted when I think it won't be--forever muddling things like email addresses, and airline tickets, and automated systems that don't want to believe I'm me after all. So while I've always known it to be quite a powerful bit of punctuation, I've never seen it quite so eloquently considered as Eric Nelson has done so here.

Apostrophe to the Apostrophe
by Eric Nelson

Small floater, you stay above the fray,
a wink at nothing's nod, a raised brow
watching p's and q's, a selfless mote
between I and m, a little horn of plenty
spilling plurals, disdaining the bottom line.

Unlike your twin relatives—groupies of wit
and wisdom, hangers on in the smallest talk—
you work alone, dark of a crescent moon.
Laboring in obscurity, you never ask why,
never exclaim, never tell anyone where to go.

Caught up between extremes, you are both
a turning away and a stepping forth,
a loss and an addition. You are the urge
to possess everything, and the sure sign
that something is missing.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Irony: a definition

So I'd been carrying around the idea of this blog in my head for awhile now--letting the idea for it percolate, but mostly pondering the all-important question: what should it be called? I was pretty pleased with the name I came up with, and the meaning behind it, but before I even had a chance to make a single post, irony struck--in the form of a wickedly sprained ankle (note, gentle reader, that I have kindly spared you the gruesome pictures) which makes the 10 blocks between apartment and subway somewhat less of a pleasant ramble and more of a grueling, limping hike.

But while I'm not sure I'm enough of an optimist to declare it a silver lining, I will admit that the injury has slowed my usually-frenetic pace down a fair bit. There's a bit less walking, but a bit more pleasant noticing of things when I do manage to escape my mostly-housebound state. And slower walking does give me more time to think, so maybe I'll be grateful yet for the fact that those 10 blocks now feel a bit like 10 miles each morning and evening.

And, I suppose my mostly-couch-bound state does, in theory, give time for more reading of manuscripts . . . .