Monday, June 21, 2010

PULLING WEEDS—It’s A Dirty Job But…

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow…?”

I’m not sure how all Mary’s silver bells, and cockleshells, and pretty maids all in a row are doing but I can’t seem to find mine—garden, that is. I wonder if Mary would mind if I borrowed a few of her maids? Surely they know how to weed?

We’ve had a lot of rain of late. To give you an idea of how much, my county gets an average of 43 inches of rain a year. How much rain has my county gotten just in the month of June? 23 inches. Twenty-three! Holy cow, no wonder I can’t keep up with the weeds in my garden!

I do have a very nice and lush group of weeds though. Very pretty, and some even flower—except they are destroying the theme I’ve designed for each garden.

So I’ve been weeding. Then comes the problem of certain things that are supposed to be coming up now and it’s hard to tell if they are flowers or weeds. I literally pulled about dozen marigolds before I realized it wasn’t the daisy weed like thing (I think its part of the ragwort family) I thought it was. They look very similar to each other when two inches tall. Fortunately, the soil was wet enough it didn’t hurt the marigolds and I was able to replant them.

I got to thinking, while I was weeding, that it reminds me of editing. I know, I’ll admit I’m strange and my mind even stranger in it’s leaps and bounds.

There are times the writing mood, zone, or whatever you want to call it, hits me like rain on dry ground. There’s thunder and lightning in my head and the ideas and story comes in like a downpour. At those times I can produce several thousand words in one sitting and a few hours.

The words are good. Just like many *weeds* are good. But some of them hinder rather than enhance the theme of the story. When that happens, you have to weed out the unnecessary words. The difference between weeding my garden and my manuscript is most of the weeds I throw away. Not so with my word weeds. Those are stored in a file because you never know when they might need to be *replanted* or used in another area.

I have good tools to help me with weeding the garden. I also have tools to help me with weeding my manuscript. Dictionaries, because the computer doesn’t always recognize certain words, much less if they’re spelled correctly. I also have a manuscript analyzer, which helps with things like repetitive words and phrases. I also have one which I need to locate on my database again that will tell me if my manuscript is too *feminine* in the use of words. In other words it can suggest whether a man or a woman wrote it based on word usage.

I have two signs hanging in my office. One says, “Write What You Feel” speaking of emotion, the other says, “Keep the details to the Now of the story” to remind me about backstory.

  • So how does your *garden* grow?
  • What tools do you use in weeding your manuscript?


Tonya Kappes said...

I love the saying on your signs. Especially the Keep the details to the now of the story! I need to write that down.
I have to rely on my CPs to help me with my blind eye!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

A thesaurus is my favorite tool.
And I'm not very good at gardens. Probably why our whole yard is lawn!

Mason Canyon said...

Now I thought weeds were a flower and you're telling me they aren't. Oh well, there goes my garden. LOL.

Love the sayings and a dictionary is my favorite tool, along with a style book.

Thoughts in Progress

VA said...

Sia, I'm still in the throwing plants in and moving them around stage. After reading your article though, I'm beginning to think I need to add to my arsenal.

LuAnn said...

We've had record-breaking rainfall here, too, and the weeds love it! Fortunately, my husband does most of that part of the gardening. He has this asparagus picking knife like they use in the field and he sticks that down in the ground and clips those darn weeds off at the root. On the other hand ... Unfortunately, there are a dozen more weeds waiting to take that one's place.

~Sia McKye~ said...

LuAnn, we have one of those triangle thingies with a moveable head. It will scrape the weeds off a ground level. A quick fix and no bending, but it sure looks nice right after it's done.

Just finished mowing the front yard which is about 3/4 of acre. It's hot out there and we're under a heat advisory so I wanted to at least get the front done. Hubs will do the back this evening when he gets home. Why the mad scramble? It's gonna rain tomorrow and it already was 3 inches high and I mowed it last week. Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

Timely post, Sia. I"m doing copy edits on Wolf Tales 11, and I love this chance to do a little weeding! It's been a few months since I wrote the story, so this is a really fresh look at it, and there's always something that can use fixin'

Kate Douglas

Olivia Cunning said...

Good idea not throwing words/scenes away. A couple of my Beta readers suggested I clip a scene about my fictional rock band, Sinners, going to the grocery store. Five rock stars grocery shopping? Hilarious! But it didn't really add anything pivotal to the story. So I figured I could put it on my website as a deleted scene someday and I cut it... but saved it. It really is funny. When I mentioned that scene to my editor, she said to put it back in. IMMEDIATELY. She likes my humor, what can I do? So it's in the book. Good thing I didn't permanently delete it. How do I know when a scene needs cut? When I feel like I want to stop reading. That's the biggest clue.

As for weeds in the garden. I can't keep up with them this year. It's more grass in the flowerbeds than actual weeds. Why can't the stupid grass just stay where it belongs? In the yard! No. Clover wants to grow in the yard this year. Last year, it was dandelions. Sheesh!

~Sia McKye~ said...

I thought that scene was hilarious. Especially the little girl...

You have and have always had, a wonderful sense of humor.

I know what you mean about the grass beds...

sherilynwinrose said...

Jamie, I would have a copy of the scene. Smile and it was great pains I even suggested it. Testy word count.

Where to I start weeding a manuscript? By doing a search for 'that'. It is an invasive word, which gets used far too often. Then we move to was. Once that is done, then I go in for the line edits. ugh.

My garden? Copious amounts of landscape fabric and lots of grass getting tossed over my shoulder. The rain this year hasn't been my friend. I hauled off two yard carts full of grass and other weeds I'd tossed out of the beds, one would thing they would be perfect. Sigh, they are far from it, but at least it looks as if someone cares now.

Olivia Cunning said...

You meant to address Olivia, right Sherilyn? LOL!

We worked and slaved to get that wordcount under 100K, didn't we? Criminy, I'm verbose. And you weren't the only one who suggested that scene for cutting. I'm still waiting to hear back on Rock Hard revisions. It currently stands at 122K. That's just embarassing. Looks like I'll be weeding that sucker pretty soon.

Kat Sheridan said...

Curently my writing "garden" is pretty much growing rocks and tumble weeds. But I figure there are reasons even for the desert!

Anonymous said...

Nice, Sia! And anything over coffee is nicer! LOL

Holly Jacobs

aries18 said...

Great post Sia! Weeding around here is pretty difficult lately since we've been getting that horrid rain thing too. As for weeding a story? I like those search and destroy programs, looking for things like... then. I think I edit better than I write sometimes.