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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
OCT
22

The Shredder

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I have company coming into town this weekend. This is rather momentous, as no one ever has cause to come through Cleveland, so needless to say, my spare room needs a lot of work. Not only is it my writing room, but it's also the dump-anything-you-don't-want-to-hang-up-or-put-away-or-deal-with-right-now room.

Full printed out and marked up drafts of both of my manuscripts were in there, and since it seemed a little weird to just drop them in one of those Shred-It bins (nothing good can come from leaving manuscripts anywhere...isn't that the point of The Words?), I sat down last night to the task of shredding them. Of course, after about twenty minutes of shoving a constant stream of papers through the machine, I started to get sentimental. They were my words. My drafts. All my corrections and edits a smattering of red across each page. It doesn't matter, it won't be worth anything to anyone someday because notoriety is probably not in my cards, but it was enough to make me stop shredding. Well, that, and I had broken the shredder.

Tonight's task: Removing the year+'s worth of People magazines also being kept in the spare room and that need to be recycled. Pretty sure those I can part with.

AUG
26

Three before Two

I have a confession. I started writing my third book. I know, I know, it's ridiculous. I only just barely made all the changes recommended by my editor to my second book and handed the manuscript over for typesetting. There's still so much time before book two is even out, and here I've gone and started on book three. It makes me feel like a mom who's robbed her baby of his babyhood by immediately upping and having another baby.

But the thing about getting books out there is it takes so damn long once the writing is done that you find yourself--even when in the thick of the book prepping and publishing processes--missing the actual writing. It's what writers like best, after all, and considering I finished the manuscript way back here, this means I haven't actually written anything in months. So I couldn't help myself. Not to mention the fact that one of the chapters that will go in book three is fresh on my mind and should really be written up pronto. At any rate, I've begun. It will be slow-going with everything else happening bookwise, but I don't mind. 684 words in, and I'm already hooked.

 

JUL
29

Ode to the Salt Mines

I hate you, salt mines.

Yes, it's day one back at work after a nice, long vacation, and while what I really need is a slap in the face (I'm grateful to have a job and all the benefits it provides me), it's always a bit depressing to return to real life. And Cleveland is always a bit depressing after NYC in particular. (Isn't ANY city?)

But, no matter, my real life is pretty fun too, at least that's what I tell myself. Sure, there are expectations of me, I have to cook my own food, and I end up at home most nights instead of out seeing a show or eating cheesecake at Carnegie Deli at midnight (or frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity). Sure, my editor has told me that manuscript #2 needs some work. Sure, I miss home and family and there are things about my life I wish I could change, but I'm fresh off a trip to the city, and for the moment I can't be anything but grateful. Hard to ask for more than a view like this.

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JUL
16

And it's in.

My second manuscript, that is. Handed it off to the editor tonight. It's funny how in these final days and read-throughs I was hit with all kinds of "this isn't good enough" thoughts, to the point of pure panic, but then again, that's exactly how I felt last time. And I think Schooled turned out pretty well. Even though there's a bit of angst this time around as well, mostly I feel incredibly relieved this evening. And proud. And also excited about seeing the book take shape over the coming months. I loved what Crystal said in this post about manuscripts being like childbirth...it may be ugly but the kid is still mine. And this manuscript in particular is definitely mine.

JUN
24

The Read-Through

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I did my first full read-through of the manuscript over the weekend. Of course I've been reading/editing for a couple months now, but this was the first reading that happened all in one sitting. And also the first reading since I've had the chapters arranged in their new order.

It went well (although there's a Saturday afternoon I'll never get back), but reading from start to finish like that makes you think, All this effort for something that can be read in a matter of hours? I guess that's the nature of the beast, and why only a handful of people out there are crazy devoted enough to write books.

MAY
30

When Things Break

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That would be my air conditioner. I can't even say anything else. Or even type it. It's too hot in here. At this rate, my manuscript will combust at any moment. It's downright unsafe to have this much paper sitting around an old charming Cleveland home in the summer. Wait, it's not even summer yet? This is terrible news.

 

MAY
29

Hit

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I hit my weekend stretch goal. All the edits are entered, and a new clean draft printed. Everything was overseen by Clementine, who, despite walking over the keyboard repeatedly and sitting herself directly on the piles of papers I most needed access to, considers herself central to these operations. At any rate, a successful weekend.

MAY
25

For the Long Weekend

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Here is my weekend goal: to enter all the edits I've been scribbling on the manuscript into the computer and print out a new, clean draft. I will not reach this goal, but it is, as they say in business, a stretch goal. (stretch goal, [n] 1. a target that is impossible to hit that you are asked to try for anyway. 2. a pipe dream)

So onto page 1.

MAY
15

On Chronology

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When I wrote Schooled, I originally had it organized into themed chapters. I thought this would be more readable (or at least less predictable) than chronological, so I lumped the vignettes together into themes. I had a troublemaking chapter, a theater/acting chapter, a teachers chapter, etc. And organizing a manuscript just the way you want it is no small task. So realizing after all that work that I actually did prefer the book in chronological order meant a whole lot of additional work. Not that it matters if it's the right decision, which I think it was, but my point is simply this: rearranging a manuscript is a big undertaking.

Since this second book will not be chronological (I think this is the right decision as well), there are a lot more ways I could potentially sequence it. A couple of weeks ago I had the manuscript spread out across the living room floor as I worked through the night to come up with an order that made sense to me, and I found one. Which I've felt good about. Until Monday night when I had a thought, a little epiphany, and once again spread the pages across the floor and reshuffled their order. I feel better about what I have now. I think I'm getting closer to the one that will stick. But who knows what another night, another spread of the pages will bring. This, if you ask me, is the fun stuff.

MAY
07

Perspective in the Cleve

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There's nothing like a trio of girls kidnapped a decade ago being found in your city to put things into perspective. Not that it really matters in what city the girls are found, it's still just as effective at making your problems seem instantly minute. And that's what I've been thinking all day. That I'm so silly to spend time whining about the stressful things in my life. Because I do this. Whine. And vent. And occasionally shake my fist at the sky for all the things that seem unfair, the people I love who deal with things they shouldn't have to, the fact that I for some reason can't just be independently wealthy, or why it has to be so hard to get people to buy a damn book already.

But none of this matters, because instead of spend the last decade trapped in someone's basement, I've been living my life. So, I think I'm good. True that my living room floor is scattered with various pieces of my manuscript right now and I'm still not sure which direction I should go in terms of certain aspects of its chronology, but seriously, how is this a legitimate problem? Pssssh. Today, more than ever, it's clear to me. And I am definitely good.

MAY
01

Murder Your Darlings

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I finished the Stephen King book, and I really enjoyed it. The beginning section could have been longer (I loved reading about his early writer-life and how it all came together for him...fascinating), but I really did appreciate the guts of the book, particularly the sections focused on revising. King spoke quite a bit about his own processes once he's got a first manuscript draft, and considering that's what I've got right now, a first draft, I'm looking at it a bit differently.

More to the point, I'm trying to cut more out. To murder my darlings, as they say. And it's hard. It's hard when you really like a certain paragraph or page to admit that it doesn't fit. But thanks in part to Stephen King's book, I'm trying to be more generous with my red pen, and believe it or not, what I feel as I slash through various words and lines isn't panic or sadness, it's clarity, liberation even. Never would have guessed that, but there you have it. Murdering my darlings like a pro. And realizing that this book will be shorter than my last one.

APR
29

Anniversary

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It's been a whole year since the book bash. And of course this weekend last year was bitterly cold and stormy out, while this year it was sunny and gorgeous. Oh well. You can't win them all. Plus it wasn't an outdoor party. It was just my bare party dress legs that suffered as the store door opened and shut all afternoon. Not to get ahead of myself, but I'm already excited for the next party. Even though it's still a long way away, the manuscript now being sorted into piles on my coffee table is evidence that I'm over the hump.

APR
17

Did I write THAT?

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It's an interesting process, editing. And one I enjoy immensely. When first out of college I had it in my head that I might want to actually be an editor. And not just because Betsy Lerner's book had changed my life. But then business happened. And now the only editing I do, prior to handing them over to a real editor of course, is that of my own manuscripts. I'm in the middle of my first post-writing read through, and can I just tell you what a strange thing it is, especially since much of the book was written quite a while ago. Some of the pages I can't even remember writing. Some of them are much more delightful than I originally thought, some are much less so. Lots of work to do, and while I am loving this first full read-through, I know from Schooled that by the time a manuscript is ready, you have read it so many times that you become a bit sick of it. But one step at a time. For now it's back to my red pen.

APR
10

Done.

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It's done! I've officially finished the writing for my second book. Still lots to do before it's in the hands of readers, but it's a tremendously satisfying feeling to be done. Now my writing posts will turn to the many post-writing to-dos as I begin the long and laborious (but also very fun) process of turning the manuscript into a book. First step, major editing. But tonight, I'm celebrating.

APR
01

Birthday Week

Remember when I said this? I still believe that writing is like picking teams, at least the way I do it, but I've been surprised as I've been writing up the last topics on my list for book #2 at just how much I've had to say about them. And I'm just as pleased with the way these final pieces are turning out than the stuff I wrote at the beginning (ie. the things I picked from the list first). As a writer, it's a satisfying feeling. One that I hope can get me through what should be the final week of writing for book #2. That's right, people. My goal is to finish writing by Sunday. A perfect birthday present.

In other news...today officially kicks off Birthday Week!! I've got some great plans today including, well, let's see, coming to work....and, um, eating a brown-bag lunch at my desk. Here's to Birthday Week getting better. Clearly it's got nowhere to go but up.

MAR
27

Got Ink?

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One of my favorite errands to run is buying new ink cartridges. I'm not sure why, but I love looking over the wall of choices and honing in on the one that's compatible with my printer. It's like having your own sleep number. Another thing I love about the ink run, and this is probably more central to my writer-self, is that it means I've done enough writing to have done enough printing to have used up all the ink I have in my house. It's a surprisingly satisfying feeling. One that causes me to look adoringly over at the growing stack of paper that is my second manuscript. It's always entertaining to read through and edit, because the times when I ran out of black ink are evidenced by a few pages printed in red or blue text. This will of course be remedied in the next draft. Now that I've restocked on ink. Black #61.