Archive for the ‘editing’ Tag

WHY?   2 comments

I have the feeling I haven’t emphasized enough the importance of asking yourself, “WHY?” before writing that e-mail, or snail-mail, or making that phone call, or taking that action. Why are you doing it? What do you hope to accomplish? What are you asking of the other person?

It’s a little like the editing I’m doing with “My Father’s House.” With each sentence in each paragraph I ask myself that question. Why? Why that word? What am I hoping to convey? Why am I saying it that way? I try to make each paragraph one line shorter.

I’m doing it with each paragraph or section too. What purpose does it serve? Sometimes I’m not sure, so I tighten it up and leave it for when I’ve finished this editing go-round and other people will be willing to go through it. I’ll want them to mark the stuff they find boring, uninteresting, misleading, or superfluous. I will need the help of people who are willing to be honest with me.

But I can’t send out my plea for those consultants until I’ve done my darnedest to clarify it for myself.

My goal is to get 800 pages down to 500 or less. To get down to basics, I guess.

And that’s what I mean by “Why?” Why do it? What purpose does it serve? What do you hope for from the other person?

ERROR ON PAGE 115     6 comments

On August 7th I received the proof copy of “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses.” I thought I would find it perfect and it would be on in a few days ready for comment and purchase.

But this is a story about the inevitability of errors, and the compulsion to overcome them. It’s an example of the need for careful editing.

Just to be sure, I proofed the proof. This must be about the 15th time. And shucks, it wasn’t perfect.

Back before it was published as “Mrs. Job,” I edited it several times before sending it off to iUniverse, where they both edited and copyedited it, involving me in the process. Then came the time when TMPublications intended to publish it under a different title, so it was again edited and copyedited. Again I was involved with checking their edits.

The next step in the story, as I guess you all know by now, TMPulications ran into financial problems so they couldn’t publish it. For the following year and a half when “Mrs. Job” (or whoever she was to become) wondered what her future would be, she was edited by me several times. And finally, when she was newly labeled “Figs & Pomegranates & Special Cheeses” I edited her several more times.

So, I thought she had attained perfection. But no. Right away I noticed that the unnecessary word “that,” carefully removed in several places, was still showing up where I didn’t want it. Oh well, that’s a stylistic matter, I thought, so we’ll let it stand.

But then I hit page 115 where what should have been the word “moved” was missing a “d.” That just provides one example why I don’t rely on spellcheck to pick up on errors.

And on page 169 I discovered the same verb appearing twice in the same paragraph. My ears didn’t like that.

So, I’ll proof it one more time. I know the ideal would be to have someone else do it for me, but I don’t know who I could ask at the last minute, and I can’t wait much longer to get “Figs …” out there for review.

So, I’ll read through it again and try this time to perfect it. Fortunately it is a good read if I do say so myself. Yes, I do say so.




I may not be blogging very much for a while. My time is taken up with lots of other stuff these days. One big thing is working with TM Publishing to complete the editing of the former “Mrs. Job.” As I’ve said before, people pronounce “Job” as if it has to do with paid employment and that is clearly misleading. So we’re looking for another title and cover illustration.

Once we get all this relationship counseling taken care of, I’ll be offering the original “Mrs. Job” at a reduced price.

In the meantime, if you have read “Mrs. Job,” you might be willing to put out a few suggestions for title change (and cover.) (Anything that doesn’t have “Job” in it.) The publisher has offered the following suggestions.

Some questions to prompt the brainstorming process:

What is the core idea of the book?
What is the primary emotional experience you want a reader to have while reading or by reading the book?
What phrases, images, or emotions from the book resonate most strongly with that idea?
What prompts the protagonist’s story arc? Why does the character who changes the most in the book, change?
What symbols and images connect to that cause?
What feelings does the point of view character experience throughout the story?
Does the reader share these feelings? If so, what feelings should the reader experience?
What symbols or images related to the story would evoke that feeling?

These are some of the things we discuss as a company when creating a title and cover. They are just a starting point; hopefully, putting the answers to these questions into words will spark other ideas.

Posted January 30, 2013 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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BUT FIRST I HAVE TO …   10 comments

If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ve been watching my struggles. Today I have another “Why do I have to keep learning this over and over?”

Back when I was still on the faculty at Southern Connecticut State University, one of my colleagues reported on a lesson her mentor tried to teach sometime after she had retired. Here’s what she said. “All during my career I kept putting off the reading I wanted to do, thinking I had so much to do first. Then I retired and I found I had much less time and strength for reading. The lesson? Don’t put it off…. “

In 1957, leaving Boston University to move with my husband of two years to our new home in Connecticut – and pregnant with our first child – I had all my course requirements completed for the Ph.D., with only my dissertation left to finish. I even had a professor who had agreed to be my advisor. But there was so much that had to be done first. Lou loved a very tidy, clean house (and, I admit, so did I) so before I did anything else I had to make sure our home was thoroughly cleaned every day. Well, that wasn’t really the first thing. Most important was making the fresh muffins each morning for him to share at work, plus packing his lunch. Then, of course, there was doing my best to prepare a meal that approached the expertise of my mother-in-law. Let’s remember, too, that pregnancy required taking a walk every day, and that expanded into visiting the neighbor ladies for coffee each morning.

All that activity required a nap before getting to work on my experiment. By the way, it could have been completed in two weeks or so if we’d had the computer options we have now. As it was, there were papers all over, and the calculator borrowed on an occasional daily basis from Lou’s work. That took up space and made a mess, so of course the tidy house required putting everything away before Lou came home for dinner. So many things to do first.

The lesson was mine to learn, I was so aware of the way I put off the thesis that I didn’t confess to people at B.U. that I was putting housewifery first. But still… Then, too, there was the spirit of the time. A married woman must of course put housework before a thesis. When I finally finished (in 1964), one of the faculty told me they had all assumed when I married and left Boston that I would not finish my degree. Some of my colleagues when I saw them in later years told me they assumed I must be brilliant – a woman admitted into a doctoral program. The truth is, I’m not brilliant. I was just too stupid to realize that I wasn’t supposed to be pursuing the degree.

OK, so there was an atmosphere that contributed to it. But the problem was mine: so many things to do first, including having a second child, and, joy oh joy! teaching evenings. When I finally got smart and traveled to Boston to consult on my plan and then got to work on it, my children were the only kids in the neighborhood who played thesis – spreading papers all over the floor. Yes, I did reach the point where I left the papers and computer out, with the plan to clean it all up only when I finally finished the dissertation.

My children were 4 and 6 when I finally finished.

So why do I have to keep learning? Getting to writing and editing should be the first thing I go to in the mornings when I don’t have clients scheduled. E-mail and web friends can survive without me. There, I’ve said it again. At least my house isn’t so tidy as it was back when I was still married.

I guess the problem now is that once again I have to get control of my schedule. So, my new day’s resolution: First things first. Schedule myself in during the high-energy parts of the day. The rest can wait.

If I’m holding your interest with this, then check back to monitor my success. That’s the reason for going public, you know. The best guarantee that one will follow through on a resolution is to commit to it in the presence of lots of people.

Thanks for helping.

Posted June 28, 2012 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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I need to leave the blogosphere for a while. I didn’t have time to get to my e-mails at all today. That’s ’cause I’m really busy setting up the garage sale for Friday June 1st and Saturday, June 2d.  I’m taking advantage of the fact that some kind volunteer does the advertising for the whole condominium group The last garage sale I did was when my granddaughter graduated from St. Olaf. This time the spur is her moving on to Colonial Williamsburg — happy news. It’s kinda fun going through my stuff, discovering things I just can’t part with, things I part with easily, and those I struggle over. If you live nearby, do come — and come early. Every item of clothing is $1.00 — some worth much more than that; others worth a dollar. there’ll be other things too, priced individually. Handbags, shoes, a penguin dehumidifier, fun odds and ends, and a box of stuff in which you might find a treasure for ten cents.

There’ll also be a great new bathroom sink vanity — never used — which could be perfect for your needs if it’s the right size. Come and check it out if you think it might be.

Thank you Thelma (not my sister Thelma) for the kind award nomination. I’ll be back on in a few days.

Oh, yes. Then there’s the issue of continuing to edit Mrs Job for TM Publications.

Wish me luck, please.



Guess what! I’m spending too much time on the web. Too many interesting bloggers to whom I’m eager to respond. Too many writers groups who grab my interest. Too many basically unsuccessful efforts to make “Mrs. Job” known to folks who might want to buy her once they realize the she is the wife of Job — a love story on many levels, not an instruction manual on how a married woman should make a living. So many blogs and groups that I’m not making time to write.

I’m about to settle in on two groups and painfully give up on the others. I need and want to get busy editing the “Mrs. Job” manuscript for TM Publications. Actually, I’ve begun my last couple of days with editing chapters three and four. I plan to get to chapter five today. Maybe there’s hope.

I know “Mrs. Job” is a pretty good piece of writing. Just a visit to the site on bears witness to that Mrs. Job on amazon.

I know my forgiveness books – a totally different genre – have been helpful to folks. In between I try every once in a while to remind people of their existence. Forgiveness.

So “Book Clinic” count me in, and I’ll be working on deciding on the other. It’s all a little like what I did yesterday in sorting through my clothes to decide what I want to bring to the consignment shop or put out for the garage sale. Each time I think to part with something, I get second thoughts and the likelihood is great that it will go back on the shelf.

Maybe I need help downsizing on the web. Any suggestions?

Things are going well for my family right now. I’m working on developing a new business. It’s time to focus.

Thanks for listening.

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