The kids and I first used this term to describe people who drove on the highway with half their vehicle in one lane and the other half in another lane.
Lately, I find myself being a straddler when it comes to social networks created by technology (not social networks where people meet face to face: writing groups, community groups, Girls & Boys Clubs, etc.). When used for good, technology-created social networks rate somewhere between mediocre and great.
I shocked myself yesterday. I was eating lunch, taking a break from writing my genealogy column when it struck me: I hadn’t included my writing job.
Let me back track to explain. While at the farm store yesterday morning, I saw a poster looking for Canada census takers. I decided it would be an interesting experience, and since I write a genealogy column, I could write about it.
Over the past year, I’ve been asked by many people, both writers and non-writers, why I chose to self-publish my book Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove. My answers depended on which stage of publishing I had been in at the time. With the project completed and only marketing left, I can provide better, more thorough answers.
As promised in a post a short time ago, here is the first in a series of posts about my self-publishing journey.
The writing world is filled with pleasant surprises, disappointments and moments you may want to remember and forget. Sometimes you can expect that something different will happen. Other times, when you’re doing something for the first time, you’re caught off guard by something that is done to you or something that you must do.
One of those ‘strange to me’ moments happened Monday when I hand-delivered a copy of Mystery Light in Cranberry Cove to my daughter’s school. It all began quite innocently enough. While picking her up for an appointment, I thought it’d be a great time to donate my book to her school library. The office secretary pointed me in the right direction and asked if the book she carried was of special importance to me.
“Yes,” I said with way too little confidence. I hesitated to say more, hoping I’d escape without fanfare. See, I really don’t like fanfare, being the centre of attention. I know it’s something I should get used to. After all, this business dictates that I meet others and show off what I’ve done.
Taking the plunge, I said, “I wrote it.”
That’s where a simple drop off turned into something more. I was introduced to the librarian as the author. She produced a camera and wanted to take a picture of me and my book.
Gosh, I know I said I like old photographs of me, but I really don’t like getting my picture taken. Still, I took a deep breath, pulled my daughter under my arm and smiled. I smiled as though the librarian wasn’t going to steal my soul with that digital device. I smiled as if I had just been handed an award for my book. I smiled like I was never going to see that picture . . . ever.
Something caught my attention this morning while filling the bird feeder at the kitchen window; a crow with a grey collar. No, the crow wasn’t carrying a collar; it was wearing it. Let me clarify this further. It wasn’t a collar that could be removed. It was a collar of grey feathers.
The crow swooped by the window so quick, a glimpse was all I managed. I cocked my head, stared out at the frosty branch tips of the trees and reviewed my memory files, trying to remember if I had seen such a thing before. No, I hadn’t.
I stretched my neck to see if the strange crow had landed where I throw food for these feathered friends. It hadn’t. No surprise, I hadn’t yet tossed the green bread or left-over pancake outside.
Then, from across the field, the crow with the distinguished grey collar flew in and landed on the large evergreen beside the driveway. I stared at it. I was in awe. I had never seen a crow like that before. The two-inch wide grey feathers flowed neatly into the black feathers and completely encircled its neck.
Another crow flew in and perched on a branch just above Mr. Grey Collar. I leaned toward the window and squinted in the early morning light. That crow had grey feathers, too, except his were covering the entire back of his head. Another crow flew in. You guessed it; he, too, wore grey feathers.
All these grey-feathered crows began the cogs turning in my head. Regardless of what my eyes told my brain, it wouldn’t believe them. My brain wanted more information. So I stared and I watched and I observed, looking this way and that. Then I saw it; the rays of the morning sun sparkled on the grey feathers. Squinting more, I realised the feathers weren’t grey at all. They were frost covered. Given the -20 degree temperature, this was plausible.
After more watching, I realised my latest observations proved my hypothesis correct. Mr. Grey Collar was really Mr. Frosty Neck. I finished filling the bird feeder, hung it and the suet in the trees, then threw out the bread and pancake for the frosty crows.
Receiving a critique from someone is a lot like these frosty crows – sometimes it takes thought and observation to see the truth.
Two friends and I exchange short writing passages weekly. Sometimes when I receive a critique, I express my disapproval by throwing my arms in the air, doing laps around the kitchen and blurting out things. If I really disagree, I close the message and go on to something else, trying to forget about it.
After time has passed, I return to the message, reading it with a more opened mind. Sometimes I’ll agree with the suggestions. Other times I see why the suggestions won’t work. And then there’s that stubborn streak that won’t let me accept a change because I really – for some reason – want it the way I wrote it.
But just like that grey-collared crow, my brain won’t accept my answer. Something keeps needling me every time I read over the passage I refused to change for no good reason. In the end, I usually give in to the original suggestion.
After almost three years of exchanging critiques, I think I’ve finally got this stubborn thing under control . . . almost