I have a few rules that I live by. But because that sounds boring, I like to call them laws. (I’m actually stealing this from my uncle who is literally a rocket scientist and likes to talk about [my last name]’s first, second, and third laws.)

The previous paragraph probably says a lot about my character for better or worse.

My laws used to be practical and along the lines of: leave the house every day, close your mouth when bicycling through a mud puddle, and check the dog bag for holes before use.

However, over the past ten years or so I have been in put in positions where I mold young minds. (Mwah hah hah ha!) So I determine laws for my students and tutees to follow.

My first law of academic (or any) writing is know thyself, by which I mean (in part) learn your strengths and weaknesses, and approach and edit your writing accordingly. My second law of academic writing is cite or fail. And so on.

I am editing over what for much of the biscuitless wastelands of the north is a hot weekend. So I have a few additional laws to share.

The first law of hot weather living is to drink a lot of water and move little. Put a fan in your windows at night and close windows and/or shades during the day. Do not, under any circumstances, use the oven. Your little northern dwellings are made to hold heat. Do not give them extra heat to hold.

That takes care of the weather portion of this rambling procrastinatory blog post. Now for the editing:

The first law is to back up every computer file that is important to you to something that IS NOT YOUR COMPUTER in case your computer decides not to wake up one morning without the slightest warning. I assure you that this law is in no way related to happenings of this week and my subsequent misery and multiple trips to Le Apple Store.

The second law is never ever do anything that makes the text on your page creep beyond the industry-standard 1″ margins on either side. This law is directly aimed at my author, who otherwise writes nice nonirritating prose.

What are some of your laws for editing, writing, or life?



Hello, Marketing

I started this blog as an anti-marketing and self-promotion blog. I wanted to cuss, make shit up, and tell stories about the perils of copyediting in a highly exaggerated, not-well-modulated manner. And I love my indulgent, grungy little blog thing and all you enablers who laugh at my jokes.

But work slowdowns happen, moves happen, independent bookstores looking for booksellers don’t return my calls, and I need more freelance work. So I’ve been reading about marketing and shit. Don’t worry, there will be no actual marketing here. However the real-life persona (hereafter, RLP) behind Indy Clause has a placeholder portfolio website for lack of a better phrase.

There a person can find a few pics of the elusive RLP, links to her actual published work, and a blog. A what? I know, I know. But it turns out I can write about some serious editorial topics without cussing. Not only can I talk about writing and editing without cussing, I can also write interesting content that is not directly self-promotional. Holy shit! I don’t hate myself even a little!*

*(This is a total lie. I still hate myself, but not about my non-Indy blog.)

I’m gonna shine that RLP blog up and add some content about writing coaching and start producing (I think) regular helpful blog posts about writing and editing. I’m going to have to buy a domain, as soon as I figure out what exactly that entails. But the minute I turn every single thing that has happened to me into a business lesson or resort to shitty stock photos at every turn (I fucking hate stock photos), I’m going to commit hari kari on my (should-be-coming-today Bali citrus Platinum Plaisir medium nib—I’m yelling at you Economical Penster in case you were wondering—) fountain pen. You have my word.

Marketing: bullshit or helpful? Discuss.



Time is not the only way to determine whether or not a person should be getting to her short-turnaround work-on-the-weekend craft-book edit. Additional indicators include (but are not limited to):

googling bulletproof coffee and considering whether or not she should make some

letting the dog out in the rain five minutes after she has come in (said dog does not mind the rain, please don’t call the authorities; she is an exceptionally well-looked-after beast—allowed on the bed and everything)

trying to look up publishing slang because you think you remember that “beauties” refers to the pretty pictures in the beginning of a chapter in a craft book, but you don’t trust your brain anymore

making a fucking breakfast bowl

reflecting on how “bowl” is another piece of slang, which means vegetables and sometimes meat on top of a grain or noodle, or “food” as the rest of the world calls it

being inordinately pleased with one’s self because of a most excellent geographical pun (involving one’s breakfast bowl) that only a very few people in an obscure county in the Upper Midwest would find funny

conducting cross-house yelling conversations with spouse about utter silliness and explaining in exhaustive detail why one’s pun was hilarious

playing “acceptable garden plant or weed” in one’s new-to-one garden in the rain


What are you supposed to be doing today?







What Are You Reading?

Everything. Next?

Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer has destroyed me for reading other works. She is a Native American, a biologist, and a poet. These three identities are interwoven in her book, as she examines the interrelation of the stories and the science of the world around her (especially plants). Her grasp of a metaphor, carried through each chapter, is stunning. Go buy this book. I’ll be here when you return.

I have a fascination with the Arctic and the Antarctic. Moving to the Northern Biscuitless Wastelands prompted me to read a bunch of books about winter. I picked up a book recently about a variety of cold places. I was all set to like it. But it was too anecdotal. I love good lyric prose as much as your next poet-turned-memoirist, but this was too much. All small facts, no deeper connections. I will give it a few more chapters before I give it up for good.

I first read Travels with Charley when I was a teenager. John Steinbeck was my mother’s favorite writer (other than Jane Austen, of course). I’m a few chapters into a reread, and am enjoying it quite a bit. Steinbeck is traveling the United States in a camper on top of a large pickup truck. Charley is a French gentleman of the poodle persuasion. I love how Steinbeck writes about him, and it’s even funnier now that I have a black poodle of my own. All dogs have personalities, but poodles, man…

Minds of Winter looked good. It had maps of the Antarctic on the cover, lots of polar adventuring, and a parallel modern story. It was short listed for some prize. The man can write! However, I lose track of all the stories, and as soon as I am with one set of characters, time passes, and another set of characters takes their place. Excellently written. Not good for readers with ADD.

[schlock novels 3, 4, and 5 redacted]

What are you reading?

Toto, We Are Not in the Urban Northeast Anymore

I am sitting in a cafe in a picturesque small town. I’ve got a pretty view, a table to myself, decent coffee, a few staples, and my trusty laptop. They’re playing country music on the radio. The good stuff, not the modern Nashville prepackaged bullshit.

I said something about loving the song to the woman behind the counter.

“Yeah, we get a lot of older men in around ten, and they are amazed they are actually hearing Willie Nelson.”

“I love Willie Nelson,” I enthused.

“Me too. I grew up with the stuff.” And smiling, humming under my breath, I sat down to get some work done. (Which is why I’m writing a blog post.)

I grew up in the South, where people talk to each other. I spent my twenties as a bookseller, so I’m used to talking to people even in the urban northeast. Unlike many people I know, I actually talk to strangers who talk to me when I’m not getting a weird vibe. And sometimes even then.

“It’s quite a picture,” the guy at the next table says to me.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“You’re sitting there with a tub of salad, bread, coffee, and…a laptop?” I’m dressed inĀ  jeans and a black hoodie. As usual, I am wearing sturdy shoes and no makeup. I think I brushed my hair before I left the house?

I think he meant I was an anachronism, with my laptop and the classic bread and salad (to be). However, I feel much less of an anachronism here than I did back in the urban northeast with my sturdy shoes and my love of country music. Lots of people here talk to each other and work at home. Or at their local cafe.

I guess it’s been a while since I have been comfortable in a place. Life is weird.

Are you comfortable where you live?


A Day in the Life

Wake up, and realize that today is the day of the total solar eclipse. Of course, I am far north of the path of totality (the name of my new video game), so I will only get a partial eclipse. But that’s okay. I can still make a pinhole viewer and see a crescent shadow where a round shadow will be. Fun with optics and astronomy!

It’s the second-to-last day of class and I finished grading before 10 am on the day of class. What?? That’s unprecedented thus far. I think I was better about grading the last time I taught that class last fall. But maybe that’s just wishful thinking.

So maybe I should get some writing done. I wrote 250 words and felt like a champ. Then I looked at how much I had left to do and instantly deflated. Lord knows how I lived my life when I had actual drama to deal with. I suppose an eclipse is pretty dramatic. My third sister is visiting friends in the path of totality, and I am a little jealous.

What’s your drama?

Some Links Because I’m Too Lazy to Write a Post

I’ve been listening to the Decemberists. They satisfy the same part of me that listened to REM obsessively as a teenager.

Use the serial comma or pay the price.

I have a friend who told me a story about an early boyfriend who cut himself and started bar fights to show how much he loved her. She was young and from an unhealthy family, and she thought this was love rather than abuse. Here is an article about how no one believes Sylvia Plath’s story of her own abusive marriage. Biting another person’s cheek without consent may not be a sign of love. (Unless you’re my small half-blind dog, in which case, little dog, I forgive you, although it hurt like an SOB at the time.)

On the power of keeping a notebook and an example of a traveler notebook, which is one of my current stationery obsessions. Don’t laugh. The inspiration of other people’s pages send me rushing to my own.

What are you currently obsessed with?