Tag Archives: editing

Points of things

Sky, sea, land

Tomorrow is the first day of the last week of the summer holidays. Mabel doesn’t go back to school till after Labor Day, but Dash starts second grade on August 19th. The second-grade thing isn’t phasing me, but the fact that the summer is almost gone is a bit stunning. This year seems to be going faster than any one before. If this keeps up, by the time I’m in my eighties, I imagine days will fly by like seconds. No wonder my mother is confused.

I partly feel like I’m just getting back into the groove of our nice laid-back summer (after the disruptions of going away, two weeks of camp, and then BlogHer) but on the other hand I’m looking forward to a bit more peace and the opportunity to throw away some of all the crap that’s been piling up around here. Because apparently I can’t do that when the kids are in the house.

I went to Target on my own for an hour yesterday and realised why I like shopping: it gives me a chance to center myself and plan things, whether it’s figuring out what might help for organizing the house a little more (I bought an in-tray!) or deciding what I want to, um, invest in this autumn. (Found a dress I want as a shirt, decided to e-Bay a bag I never use and buy one I fell in love with in Marshall’s; also tried on boots, but that’s not relevant ahem as I was saying…)

I thought I’d missed my Dad’s birthday and blamed it on the fact that apparently now I only know it’s someone’s birthday when Facebook tells me about it, and my Dad (needless to say) is not on Facebook. But then I realised I just had no idea what the heck date it was in August, and I hadn’t missed it at all. So that’s good.

I might have a freelance editing job lined up for when the kids go back to school. You might not get so much blathering from over here if I find I’m actually working instead.

In the last week both kids have started swimming underwater, Mabel for the first time ever and Dash for the first time since a little last summer. My kids have never been those ones who don’t seem to notice whether they’re on top of the water or the water’s on top of them – they would always crane their necks to keep their faces out of the water, even with goggles on for extra protection. So to see them whooshing around underneath all of a sudden is pretty cool. I told Mabel I didn’t do that till I was twelve, and she was well chuffed.

Technically, I finished the 30-day shred yesterday. That is, it was the tenth day I’ve done the level-3 workout. However, I did take off about ten days in July when I was sick and then away, and almost another two weeks from BlogHer until yesterday, and I spent a few intervening days working back up to it by doing levels one and two a couple of times. I don’t feel any different, though it’s not as hard as it was at the start, so I must be at least a tiny bit fitter and stronger. Dash says I look taller, which has to be a good sign. The scales still say I’m a few pounds lighter even though at no point did I stop eating all the muffins I usually eat. I will try to keep going until I get totally bored or something else happens or they go back to school and I try running again.

Since we didn’t do anything today, here are some photos from last weekend, when we took in some history by going to Fort McHenry in Baltimore. A decisive battle of the War of 1812 took place in Baltimore Harbor, and as the poet Francis Scott Key watched to see which flag would be flying over the fort as dawn broke the following morning, he wrote what would become the lyrics of The Star Spangled Banner.

Stars and stripes over Fort McHenry
Teeny little flag up high; huge enormous flag down low
Three people walking the battlements
Walking the battlements

Disappearing pizza and itchy fingers

I’m starting to get itchy fingers. I think I’m at one of those Points In My Life.

See, here I am churning out acres of verbiage – garb(i)age verbiage perhaps, but still – every day, and I seem to have a surprising amount of time to do it in, once I ignore the siren songs of cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the playroom and paying attention to my quite self-sufficient younger child; which is hard but, you know, I love you all so I do it.

However. I can’t help thinking all this energy in my fingertips could be put into something more, well, I hate to be crass, but lucrative. Or meaningful or fulfilling or something. Not that this isn’t… oh, you know what I mean. If some of the time I did something I was paid for, then I could pay someone else to clean the house now and then, and then I could continue to ignore the housework with impunity. It’s a glorious tiny circle of capitalism.

Yesterday (this seems like a detour but bear with me, it’ll get relevant), my dinner plans went a little off kilter, and B offered to pick up pizza on his way home. Which was lovely, except that when I tried to order online from our local pizzeria, it had disappeared from the Internet. It had also disappeared from the phone network, as the number listed brought me to the next town over’s Domino’s, and then the man on the other end couldn’t hear me anyway. 

Fine, I said snottily, and made carbonara, which is what I should have done to begin with.

And then when I was asking local friends where our Domino’s had gone, someone humorously suggested that I should rent the now-empty location and start a cafe from which I could sell my home-baked goods.

It is indicative of my state of mind that I almost considered considering it seriously.

In one way, it’s lovely. I mean, the idea that yes, I could do this, that even though I’m not the entrepreneur “type” and that I’ve never considered being a small-business owner, I could probably do it in real life. My life is not over just because I’ve had kids. I never opened the second-hand bookstore/coffee shop I’ve been musing about since I was twenty before I had childrnen, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it afterwards. Maybe it’s something to do with the headlights of the oncoming forty that makes me so cavalier in my assumptions, but I do actually think I could.

But there’s plenty of time for that, and right now it’s not actually what I want to do. I think if I had to bake for a job rather than enjoyment, I’d very soon get sick of churning out the goods. Not to mention all the headaches that go with owning a small business. Not at the moment, thank you, though I won’t write it off forever.

On the other hand, it seems like I do have a little time on hand and maybe I could actually do something else with it. I could start small and look for some freelance editing work. What I’d really like is for someone to pay me to write, but then I’d have to work out what it was I was going to write, or write things other people tell me to, and I’m not certain how to do either of those. I do want to capital-W Write Something, but I can’t do that while Mabel’s flitting around the house begging every five minutes to watch My Little Pony on my computer or actually putting on Sesame Street in the background. That particular project will have to keep growing at the snail’s pace it’s coming along at, for the moment, if I want it to be any good.


And then I had to go and, you know, actually parent or something, and make dinner and take in the laundry, and in between I checked my LinkedIn profile to make sure it didn’t have any misspellings and then I put out the word on Facebook and Twitter that I am, in fact, in the market for some freelance proofreading, copy editing, taking words and making them prettier/clearer/correcter*. 

Sure, what’s the worst that can happen? I’m deluged with offers and have to turn people down? Or nothing at all. I think I can cope with both eventualities, but something in between would be ideal.

*Not actually a word. I do know that, don’t worry.


Normally, I try not to blog about blogging. It tends to send me down a rabbit-hole of introspection, which is very fascinating to me, but not so much to you lot. Maybe. Every now and then, though, I suppose I can get away with breaking my rules.

See, earlier today I wrote a post about going back to work. At least, about how maybe once Mabel is back at school, and five mornings a week this year instead of just three, I might look for some freelancing. Except I took a good six paragraphs to say it. And then I thought, “This isn’t very interesting. Why am I writing this?”

So, why indeed? If my blog is just for me, it doesn’t have to be interesting to anyone else. This post, for instance, will also not be interesting to many other people. And sometimes I just need to write things out to explain them to myself, or to get to the meat of what I actually meant to say.

In which case, I should then delete the first six paragraphs and then publish the meat, but these days I don’t really have time to get there.

Which brings me to the quantity versus quality question. Right now, my fingers are clicking away as fast as they can because the children are upstairs with their father, who is overseeing the bath. Soon they’ll be back, and then it’ll be bedtime, and then I’ll have another little while before I’m distracted by someone watching Star Trek Enterprise beside me, or possibly something else I’m more interested in. (Though actually, Enterprise isn’t half bad. Sometimes I get sucked in.)

The way I see it, it’s easier for me to update my blog almost daily than rarely. Because almost daily is a habit, and rarely far too easily becomes never. And by writing through the dross we sometimes arrive at the good stuff. I don’t want you to have to read the dross, but maybe you don’t mind either. Not every post can be a great one, and anyway, sometimes my most popular posts are the ones I thought I just threw up against the wall to see if anything stuck. (The one about packing, for instance, has proved surprisingly well-frequented.)

As an editor, all this dross annoys me, but I’m not going to go back and cut swathes through my archives, because as a writer, each individual piece of dross is my baby. Not my perfect baby, but nevertheless, born of my fingers and brought to the light of screen by nobody but me and the nice people from Blogger.

So what do you think (before they get out of the bath)? Are you willing to put up with the dross to get the meat? Have you a higher dross tolerance than I thought? Would you prefer I posted less often with more focused, pared-down, edited content? And at the end of it all, do I care? Because after all, is this blog for me or for you?

You tell me.


Every night since we came back (that’s, ooh, twelve nights now) I’ve wondered if this will be the one when Mabel goes to sleep without a trip downstairs or three for a drink/waffle/book/talk to Daddy. So far, apart from that one evening when I wasn’t home till after nine because of a committee meeting, that night has not yet come. Maybe it will be tonight.

No. No, it’s not tonight.

Meanwhile, let’s talk about possessive plurals.

About three of you said “Yes, let’s,” and everyone else’s index finger is slowly migrating north to that suddenly more attractive Next Blog link. Well, fine. Go if you want, but you might miss something. I’m just warning you.

It all began with the Presidents Club, which was something dreamed up by the Sales Department of the software company I used to work for, to entice its members to sell, sell, sell our product. The sales people were all (mostly) in the USA, and I was in Ireland, where head office lay. And somehow we in the Editing Department, desperate for work so as not to be downsized, had got our tentacles on Marketing Stuff and I was faced with proofing some internal baloney about how if you sold Lots and Lots of computer-based training courses, you too could become a member of the prestigious Presidents Club and go on a special trip to New Orleans next summer.

This may be something that all US-based sales departments have, but I was not US-based and had never been in sales, and I was very hazy as to what on earth all this was about. I sent confused e-mails back to someone in California asking what president this was, and how many presidents we were talking about here, and in what sense was this or was this not the club of/for/by/about one or more presidents. And whether they could not just call it something less ambiguous, please, instead?

Now that I’m older and wiser and know about Presidents Day, I am more forgiving of the presidents club. I passed more than one third Monday of February in this country before I acquiesced to those who forwent the apostrophe. I wanted it to be the day of all the past presidents, and therefore to be Presidents’ Day. But no! It’s not the day of them, it’s the day celebrating them, about them, if you will. So no possessive needed.

Looking back, I would now charitably assume that whoever invented the damn Presidents Club was modelling it on the eponymous Day, and I would just leave well enough alone. But that was then, and I can only apologise so much for apostrophes inserted where none were due.

But every week now for half the year, twice a week at least, I’m faced with a similar – but not similar enough, more’s the pity – conundrum, as from May or June on, I begin to see signs pop up on random street corners for a market where farmers gather to sell their produce directly to the public. A farmers’ market. Or a farmers market? Is it a market of the farmers, by the farmers, or about the farmers? I think we can all agree that it’s not a farmer’s market, unless it’s particularly tiny, but beyond that I’m no longer as decisive as I was in my confidently dogmatic youth. Perhaps the sign is merely telling me that farmers market. Yes, they do.

I’m not even going to try to tell you about the confusion that arose in my mind when I encountered the phrase “Laissez les bon temps rouler” in the same internal sales brochure. If only we’d had Wikipedia in 1999.