Thursday, July 2, 2009

THE STROKE IS FINE - I WALK THE LINE

In my last post I said I wasn't good at waiting. As it turned out, the alarm bells going off in my head were for good reason. I checked in with Yuyi to see how things were going and she never received my story revisions. She was sitting on the other end wondering what happened to me and if her comments and suggestions made it too difficult for me to keep revising. It took a couple more tries for my revisions to reach Yuyi. Interestingly enough, I had gone to great lengths to make sure my email wouldn't get bounced for looking like spam*. In doing so I probably did myself in.

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After Yuyi got my revisions, I was back to waiting again. So, I worked on a new illustration rough of a Japanese Ocean Spirit for a folktale and started a black and white spot illustration of a wizard's apprentice. I didn't get very far on these new illustrations before I had Yuyi's feedback on my story.

I felt very hopeful that there weren't very many changes to be made. Yuyi said I'd be ready to break the text down for illustrations after I made these revisions...successfully. In a way these were the toughest revisions yet, but I also knew they were the most important. I may make it with this story after all.

Just as there is a fine line between being impatient and knowing that waiting any longer doesn't feel right, there is a fine line between just enough detail and too much. That's what makes it so great to be getting feedback in this program. Often in editing, it takes only a slight change in perception to make things just right. It's easy to overshoot the mark.

Overall, I needed to be more specific in a few areas. In one part, my main character needed some guidance from her grandfather before she could continue on to a conversation with a water spirit. Originally the text moved on, but the lack of guidance was distracting, leaving the reader wondering what just happened. It was a mini dead-end.

In the next scene, the water spirit was a bit verbose and I actually got to cut out a sentence of dialogue! That was easy. Another simple shift followed that one. I needed to change the word "near" to one that expressed exactly how close my main character was to the angry Great Serpent as she approached on the back of a turtle.

The last revisions weren't as easy. I had to define an abstract concept in words that kids could relate to. You know what it's like when a kid asks you what a word means and you struggle to define it without using the word they were asking you to define? That's what I was dealing with. I could feel the meaning right on the tip of my tongue, but I was tongue-tied. I sat with the feeling of the definition for a while, looked at it upside down and inside out. I made many free-form attempts at defining it to get ideas flowing. I'm not sure if I've done it, but I'm hoping I'm close enough to begin breaking the text down.

In the meantime, I'll continue working on the illustrations that I started. I bet I don't get far before I get my next feedback!

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*In my business I correspond with a lot of people through email. People sign up to get my newsletters and there is a lot of back and forth between myself and clients. For newsletters and lengthy correspondence, I check the content of my email to make sure it doesn't look like spam to email filters. There are key things to check for and sometimes I run it through a spam check software which points out problem areas and gives suggestions for ways to fix them. Ironically, it wasn't working when I was sending my revisions off to Yuyi!

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