My mother was one of the most capable people I knew. Maybe this was because she was my mother. But I watched her just wade in there and deal with whatever situation she had to deal with, while I would whine and complain and think things through. Let’s just say “In the amount of time you spent arguing about this, you could be done by now” was a frequent refrain of my childhood.
But one thing people didn’t know about her was that she had a secret melodramatic streak. I’d come home from school.
“I had the most awful time today.” Her tone of voice indicated that she might have accidentally started a fire that burned down her workplace. But she had that glint in her eyes.
“What happened, Mom?” I’d ask absently as I rummaged in the fridge for food.
“I had to do a mail merge,” and she’d launch into a tale about WordPerfect (it was back in the WordPerfect days; my mother found it…imperfect) and how it had done her wrong.
I spend my day obsessing over commas and other things that the average human being never notices; and, unlike say viruses, they will never really suffer from what they don’t notice. “We’re producing books, not saving lives,” as one of my former colleagues at [publisher redacted] used to say. But the melodrama keeps me amused.
(One of my mother’s favorite stories about my third sister is the time my sister went on a roller coaster when she was twelve, and would yell “I’m too young to die!” when she got to the top. Nature or nurture? )
So when I say “radical rewrite,” I’m probably not writing a whole new book. I’m using some melodrama to make myself feel better about revising. But it’s also a way to remind myself that I have to make some fundamental changes to the way I write about what I see. And I like alliteration.
Day 3, I formulated some questions and some statements that I think might be true. I have topics I have already written about, but I will recast the way I tell them. In theory at least. Now back to my paying work.
What are you doing today?