Sailing and Editing


Cotuit skiffs a-racing

At risk of straying into overwrought metaphor, editing is a bit like sailing. My wife’s family is of New England whaling stock. She grew up sailing the flat bottom, gaff-rigged skiffs that evolved from the workboats designed to sail the shallow bays and shoals of Cape Cod. Her grandmother wrote a wonderful story, The Cut of Her Jib, which she took from a journal and letters of her grandfather, a whaling captain, and her grandmother. Have a look.

cover-cut-of-her-jibOkay, back to torturing the metaphor. When I go to my critique groups, I get gusts of wind coming from different directions. They’re like the changing winds that bedevil sailors near the shore. But those contrary breezes, if you read them right, you sail a better line. Same with the critical comments. I’m somewhere just off shore with my third novel, Open Circuit, tacking and backing, trying to maneuver.

After you pull free of the shoals and into the ocean, the wind steadies. You have to trim the sail and determine which line work best. Not unlike the work of editing once the story’s laid out. I’m halfway through the first substantial edit on my second novel, Skins and Bone, realizing I’m in deep water. I better navigate right or I’ll miss the point of the island.

Awright, awright. I think I’ve bludgeoned that metaphor enough.

Back to the editing …

TechnoMania … Getting the drift of social media

Man, this blogging business has already been an experience, and I’ve only been at it for a few weeks. WordPress, facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of wannabes. Pinterest, Flickr. Oh, Yah … YouTube of course. Widgets. HTML.
Having gotten the basic blog together, I was feeling like I was at the top of a long hill, only to look across a misty valley to see yet another, higher mountain ahead.

In my case, it’s Web 2.0. I think I may have conquered Web 0.85, working manfully on 1.0. One of the curious aspects of social networking is all the vehicles offer solutions that are INCREDIBLY SIMPLE, just ask their homepages. Just a few keystrokes and … you can do something trivial. Want to do something interesting? Well, guess what, it’s convoluted. It’s hard. Leaves one with the impression that the social network software world is run by guys and gals who are incredibly clever at very obscure stuff and bear grudges against the regular people out there that got more dates than they did back in high school.
HINT from a Web 0.85 kind of guy: If you’re just getting into this stuff, start out at Jennifer Wylie is the librarian at the very fine Cotuit, Massachusetts library and an expert on the kinds of skills and activities that will define ‘library’ in a few years. Her website has a collection of articles and lists on this tech stuff that is a great place to start. It got me from 0.85 to 1.0, and I think I see her standing on top of that next higher hill…

Now, back to the writing …