Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing

Assorted, random bits from my brain:

-Well, it happened. The Magpie turned 20 this weekend, so now I can no longer say, “I have two teenage girls.” Welcome to Wistful, enjoy your stay.

– All day Friday, the National Weather Service repeated the following: “Overnight lows of five above zero.” I woke up Saturday morning to find it was eighteen below. I suppose knowing it in advance wouldn’t really matter, but still. I know the worst part is likely over for the year, but I am ready for some warm(er) weather.

– Remember this post? Buried deep within the BARTON’S WOMEN manuscript was a comment bubble attached to the word ‘gray’: “Be consistent” it said. I noticed it when I did a first ‘breeze through’. Upon tucking in for some serious revisions, I found that I’d spelled it ‘grey’ for the first 2/3 of the manuscript, and ‘gray’ for the final third. I know I had gone through and changed it all to ‘gray’ before querying. Yes, that definitely qualifies for:

(Oh, and I have again changed them all back to ‘grey’)

-I killed a major darling this week. Now, I’m pretty sure I’ve run around the blogosphere and the forum-sphere, telling people something along the lines of, “Yeah, I’ve killed darlings–it’s not so bad.”

Apparently, I never killed the right darlings before, because this one hurt. I’m reminded of something Peggy Eddelman said by way of Joss Whedon, by way of his mentor:

If a particular scene (or your book in general) isn’t working,

I think the reason I was able to blithely kill off darlings in the past is because they weren’t, in the end, that important to me. This was a favorite part. And it did hurt. The good news? I think the story is better without it….It even hurt to say that. Sorry, darling.

– I did find something that made me feel better. Since it’s Monday, a day so many of us dread, here’s something cheerful. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you “Baby Elephant in the Ocean”:

-And that’s about it for me. How’s everyone out there?

16 Responses

  1. Aw, go baby elephant go. Swim, swim! Ok I'll stop now but I really enjoyed the video. My little sister turned twenty last year so there are no more teens in our home either. Sorry you had to kill your darlings but it did make your manuscript better. Wish you warmer weather and congrats in the Magpie hitting the big 20.

  2. No need to stop–the elephant demands to be adored! My sister found one of two baby elephants in a wading pool–that one's great, too. Maybe next week!

  3. That advice really applied here. What made this tough is it all *kind of* worked. Almost. And yet, it wasn't really a matter of minor tweaking. And what's not to love about the elephant?

  4. Killing darlings is always interesting, I'm never entirely sure what to expect from myself as a reaction, but so far I haven't gotten rid of anything that hurt me too much. I have a feeling I'm about to have to do it with WALLS though.

    Oh no, the Magpie can no longer class herself as a teenager! I'm about to suffer the same fate, so I think I can empathise with her a little better.

    Baby elephants are cute.

    Stay warm! And get warmer!

  5. The Magpie seems a lot less broken up about than I, though I think she's looking at this impending adulthood thing with a mix of excitement and trepidation. If she does get to do Junior Year abroad, I think she's going to grow up a heck of a lot faster than she will here.

  6. Do you ever recycle them? I have a long document for each manuscript called 'PROJECT TITLE-cuts' that's chock full of bodies. I have dug some of them up on occasion.

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