What I’m Reading
Still reading Charles Pellegrino’s The Last Train from Hiroshima. It really is amazing how survival worked out, how some people right in the hypocentre walked away without a scratch (though sometimes still got radiation poisoning), based just on where they were in a building. There were a number of shock cocoons where the pika (flash) bounced off or went around, like stairwells. Others were shielded from the pika by a wall or window covered in white paper. It’s such a macabre blessing how some survivors experienced vision correction and remission of cancer and tuberculosis, because of their exposure to those deadly atoms.
What I’m Writing
Still in the thick of edits and revisions for my first Russian historical, with ideas for how to fix some of the remaining trouble spots in the earliest chapters during the coming next round. Thankfully, I’m finally over that long middle hump in Part I, and am now well into Part II. It’a amazing how much crap I found to cut out, particularly pointless, cluttery chat; rambling, oversharing dialogue; and meaningless short scenes.
It may very well be that, in spite of all the hard work I’ve done with editing, revising, and rewriting over the last three years (plus all the times I went back and tinkered with the older material while I was writing the book), there may always be a few places which read awkwardly or a bit on the juvenile side. It’s not that these places are examples of bad writing so much as they’re examples of someone still developing as a writer. It’s the same reason Birth of a Nation is technically a great film, with cutting-edge film techniques and a gripping dramatic storyline. It doesn’t change or elevate the stomach-churning racism infiltrating every last nook and cranny.
I really think I’ll put a note in the beginning, explaining that I wrote the first draft between ages 13-21, and thus to consider the source of any remnants of that less developed writing style. The majority of this book was written when I was a mere teenager, with Part II written in my very early twenties. The new material and significant rewrites of my adult years will never outnumber the material produced in my youth.
What Works for Me
Writing and editing dialogue is a skill I’ve had to come by the hard way. In particular, I often cringe when editing the dialogue in my older books. Not only was I still developing as a writer, but I’m also an Aspie. These people don’t speak like normal people would, but that’s because I genuinely didn’t know any better. That was how I really thought, the way I might write a journal entry or a letter at that age. I also didn’t get out much with other people. Always consider if your characters are speaking like normal people, or if that’s more how someone might express oneself in writing. Avoid meaningless cluttery chat which just fills up space, rehashes established information or backstory, or which is guilty of rambling, awkward oversharing.
What Else I’ve Been Up To
I made some awesome vegan macaroni and cheese, after the whole brouhaha with insane food snobs gnashing their teeth about Annie’s Homegrown joining General Mills. It made me realise I haven’t had macaroni and cheese in some time. I used this recipe, using coconut milk and Smart Balance flaxseed butter, leaving out the garlic powder. (Warning: Source website is heavily into food woo and propagates ridiculous anti-GMO propaganda.)
Seriously, the butthurt food snobs ranting and raving about Annie’s moving to a corporation which uses GMOs are perfect examples of whiny, overprivileged First Worlders. They actually went onto Annie’s Facebook wall and posted pictures of their Annie’s products on fire, or posted about how they’re throwing away or burning the food. God forbid you give that good food to a food bank, mission, battered women’s shelter, any place where people would be so thankful for any food offered. When you don’t have much money, you don’t give a damn if food has GMOs (which BTW are safe, contrary to the emotional, unscientific propaganda), gluten (barring legit Celiac or wheat allergies), organic ingredients, etc.
Wasting good food has always been tantamount to sin for me, after growing up without a lot of money and having grandparents who lived through the Great Depression. Absolutely repugnant that some people put ideology before helping the needy.