Things Fall Apart

Last night the adapter cord to my MacBook Pro gave out. There is a notice flashing on my printer’s display panel that the drum needs to be changed and the toner is nearly depleted.  I have a raging case of tendonitis in my right arm and my neck wobbles on my spine, as if it can’t quite carry the load of my heavy head–technological and physical manifestations of too much time spent on the computer.
The computer power cord is a minor crisis.  A new one should arrive Wednesday. In the meantime, I’m coming to you from an iPad, wondering how anyone types on this thing without a keyboard. Just don’t judge. This week’s formatting and editing will be half-assed. I’m typing with one finger.
Folks, the power cord incident could have been a major crisis. A meltdown of epic proportions averted by the mere shadow of days. Monday (tomorrow as I write, today as you read), my next-to-penultimate round of novel edits is due. Not only that, but a literary journal to which I’d submitted a short story back in July finally turned around their edits last Wednesday, requesting that I make my changes by . . . Tonight. Yup.
Done. Dusted. Damn. I submitted novel edits on Wednesday and short story edits Friday. You just go ahead and fall apart on me, Crucial Technology. I’m way ahead of you.
The end of the edits is nigh and I’m so ready. I’ve read The Novel so many times in the past two months, I can quote entire passages by heart. Knock Wood, revisions are behind me as of one draft ago; now I’m fine-tuning, line-editing, killing not plot darlings, but literary ticks. I read The Novel out loud last week, catching repetive words and phrasing (I had a thing for the words bitter, bloom, flat, drain, north, and all manner of breath, breathing, inhaling, exhaling. Jeepers). From the Read-Aloud Edit alone, I cut 1000 words.
For my next edit trick, I shall read The Novel backwards. I kid you not.
My editor promises to hand off the next round by Wednesday, just in time for that power cord to arrive. For me to hope that the fix is a simple change of hardware. Otherwise I am, to put it bluntly, screwed.
I’ll have about ten days to edit, and then back to the publisher it goes. A month of freedom to tackle revisions of THE CROWS OF BEARA, which my agent turned back to me last week (I used precious battery power last night, printing off the manuscript; printer toner and drum survived to print another day), then The Novel will be shuffled off to the Production team. It will undergo a final scrubbing–line editing and proofreading–before being formatted into something resembling a book. A cover is forthcoming. A frontpiece map. Sometime in April I will have galleys to proof. Then that’s it: other than minor corrections that become apparent after the ARCs go out this summer, it is what it is, and it will no longer be mine.
Three elements of The Novel remain on my to-do list: Acknowledgements; Reading Group Discussion Questions; and an Author Q&A. Yesterday, I made an iPhone video of myself talking about the inspiration for The Novel for the Sales and Marketing team. No, you don’t get to see it. Don’t even ask.
I realize I keep calling The Novel, The Novel. It does have a name, but it’s not what it was once, or even what it was after that. Can you bear one more title change? Although I’m learning never to say never when it comes to publishing changes, I’m thinking this one may just stick. And I love it. At last.
Here’s a glimpse of the editorial decision making process:

Hi Julie,

We have come up with an incredible new title for (the book formerly known as REFUGE OF DOVES, and then REMEMBERING! This title came out of taking a hard look at the positioning of the book and what the heart of the story is. Part of what you wrote in your first response to my editorial letter was really helpful for us– We’re not concerned with the how of reincarnation, but rather the more profound emotional reactions to it. This pointed us in the direction of focusing on the experience of reincarnation and got us thinking about books like THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and LIFE AFTER LIFE, both of which have time travel/reincarnation elements, have been hugely successful, and also have very revealing titles that tell you basically what the book is about.

My latest idea was to shift focus from just the title to concentrating on the entire front cover—what the title, cover tag, and cover image together as a unified package will communicate about the book. I think we have come up with a really strong title and tag that play off of each other in a compelling way.

Title: In Another Life
Tag: Three men are trapped in time. One woman could save them all.

Well, I’m tapped out. Please laugh at that. I need to know you’re laughing.
Just one last thing.  Do you know what else I ordered yesterday, in addition to that damnable power cord? Of course you don’t. I ordered a portable keyboard for this tablet. It’s coming with me this summer on a grand adventure. Which I’ll tell you all about, soon . . .

Blooming! Copyright 2015 Julie Christine Johnson

11 thoughts on “Things Fall Apart

  1. Wow, you get tendonitis too? I’ve got it in my right shoulder almost constantly lately. You’d think typing would not be something that would result in injury. Lol! Good luck with the power cord. Hopefully that’s resolved already.


    • I know, can you believe it! I swim and do yoga several times a week and I can’t tell if that’s helping or hurting. Trying to use my left hand as much as possible, but there are days when the pain radiates into my next. Ugh. And not like we get worker’s comp!
      Yes, the power cord is all good! Arrived Wednesday, just in time for the manuscript to arrive from my editor. More typing! AAIIGGH!! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Michelle,

    Reading the novel on reverse chapter order (Lord, did you think I meant literally word-for-word backwards?) breaks me out of the flow of a story I know too well; it slows me down to look at the paragraph flow within scenes. I (perhaps obviously ) speed up as I near the end of each full read-through, so later scenes receive an eye that is less sharp and critical than earlier chapters. But yeah, like most editing at this stage, it’s a rather masochistic endeavor. 🙂


  3. I forgot to say how sorry I am to hear you have tendonitis…been there a few time in my life and I know how painful it is. 😦


  4. Hope you don’t mind a youtube link but this post made me think of “Poets” by one of my fav bands, Tragically Hip. Gordie Downe is one of the most entertaining singers and writers out there. And if you don’t know The Hip-it is time! 😉

    Ron’s body is constantly in pain from painting…he always says hey I am not digging ditches or welding in -30C in Edmonton! 😉


  5. Julie,
    For what its worth, I have a Touchfire soft keyboard for my ipad and really like it. Not affiliated with the company, just like the product.



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