On revisions and assumptions

The right way to revise is … I’m just kidding. There isn’t one right way to revise.

I wanted to make some changes to one of my middle grade manuscripts, but the printout I already had was several versions ago and already scribbled-upon. I tried to use it anyway, with a different color pen so I wouldn’t confuse myself. It didn’t work. All the scenes I needed to change weren’t in this version. Especially annoying since I’d wasted precious car writing time on my first road trip in a year and a half.

I groaned internally and printed the whole thing again.

Some people can rewrite scenes right on the screen, and I thank those people for being eco-friendly. I can do it to an extent, but this particular revision was extensive and needed to be consistent throughout. I wanted the tactile feel of scribbling on pages. I wanted to cross things out and fill the margins. I wanted to minimize the time I spent staring at a screen, after a year and a half of too much staring at screens. You can argue with the way your brain works, or you can shrug and go along with it. I scribbled my way through the manuscript and I’m happy with the results.

The right way to revise is to figure out the right way for you, and then to do it. That’s all.


So, about Israel and Gaza.

I haven’t been talking publicly about the conflict, even though I’m horrified at all the devastation, because I think the discussion should be driven by people who live in the region, or have ever in their lives been *to* the region. I don’t have that expertise. But there’s been a huge spike in antisemitic incidents, here in the U.S. and elsewhere, over the actions of Israel’s government. To be clear: You can absolutely criticize a government’s actions. You can also do that without being antisemitic, or assuming that all Jews everywhere are somehow complicit in that government’s actions. That devolves into both the “Jews secretly control everything” trope and the “dual loyalty” trope, in which Jews are considered to be not true citizens of whatever country they happen to be living in. Jews have been getting harassed and murdered over tropes like this for centuries.

Please don’t assume you know where all Jews stand on this situation. You don’t. Please help look for a way forward instead.

If you’re also horrified by the devastation and the civilian loss of life, there are a number of organizations trying to help. The International Committee of the Red Cross provides humanitarian aid and assistance to local groups in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. Check #BooksforPalestine on Twitter; they’re raising money for the Middle East Children’s Alliance and the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. The ADL is a good source of information and tools to fight discrimination. This is just a sampling; there are plenty of other resources.

And it shouldn’t even need to be said, but comparing public health measures to the Holocaust is terrible and needs to stop.

Comments turned off. Have a good holiday weekend.

Little wins and big wins

I did the final proofread on a short story of mine that’s being published in an anthology. I lost a regular writing/editing gig, since the one remaining newspaper I freelanced for is shutting down. I sent out new queries to magazines on short stories and to agents on my novel, and got some encouraging rejection letters. It’s been an up-and-down couple of weeks.

But that’s the creative life, whether you’re writing for pay or writing for the love of it (ideally both?). Up, down, forward, back. Be happy at the good news, roll your eyes at the bad news, keep going.

Any success this past year is worth celebrating. Any ability to achieve anything close to normal is worth celebrating. Listen, I just got my first haircut in a year and a half. The little wins are big right now.

So I hope you’re achieving little and big wins, and you’re being as creative as you’re able to under the circumstances. And I hope you’re able to get vaccinated (I’m Team J&J, how about you?) so we can get past this thing once and for all. It’s getting warmer out, and I’d like to be someplace besides my back yard.

Congratulations on whatever wins you achieve this spring.