Archive for 'i am so so smart'



What Stace had to say on Monday, August 8th, 2016
I Am Stupid

Oh, I have many, many things to blog about, or rather, I have many ideas for things to blog about, one of which is my hair–which is why it’s merely an idea instead of a plan; do you guys want to read a blog post about my hair and the hair extensions I got for my birthday? They’re nano ring extensions: tiny little rings that you pull your hair through, insert the metal tip of the extension, and then clamp shut with pliers. I have pictures and all, but I don’t know if the topic would actually be of much interest. This isn’t a beauty blog, after all, although I am always happy to discuss hair/make-up/etc. Anyway.

This is a nano ring:

See? It's tiny. The Queen is wearing it like a big hoop earring here.

See? It’s tiny. The Queen is wearing it like a big hoop earring here.

I also have some thoughts on, well, other topics. Topics of a political nature, sort of. See, it’s not that I want to blog about politics per se; I don’t, and never really have. You guys may remember my reasons. I still think those are valid reasons, and the Hubs and I were just having a conversation about this yesterday in which we discussed the main reason (as we see it) which I do plan to blog about. But there are some peripheral sort-of-political topics that have been troubling me deeply; they’re really more social/sociological in nature, but again, I don’t want to bore you with my political/sociological/whateverical blatherings. (As my friend Ben Weasel said, “Politics are fucking boooring.”) Everybody and their brother is talking about politics these days, what with the latest round of Douche vs. Turd Sandwich getting in high gear and all. (In fact, it’s more like X-Treme Douche vs. X-Treme Turd Sandwich Cage Match Scum-a-Thon this time around. How I long for 2008, when I could honestly say, “They both seem like good guys and I bet either of them will do a decent job.”)

But today I’m going to talk about something completely different. I’m going to talk about the epically, epically stupid thing I did.

I wear contact lenses. I wear contact lenses because my vision is so poor that I get free eye exams. Without corrective lenses, I am legally blind–and in fact, if my vision gets much worse I’ll have to have contacts specially made, because I am about half a degree away from the “We don’t make ’em that strong” category. (My other option would be to wear the strongest possible lenses plus reading glasses. Ugh!) But for now, I can still wear contacts, and I wear the extended-wear ones and have for a looong long time.

So a couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to take the lenses out and change them (I wear disposables), so I did. And the next day I grabbed the box of lenses (they come in these little plastic packets, which are packed inside a box) and took one out and put it in my right eye–or so I thought, but when I blinked my vision was still all blurry. Had I dropped the lens? What happened to it? Had it dissolved in my eye or something? I pictured myself as the Opening Scene Girl in some awful horror/sci-fi B-movie, They’re Coming For Your Eyes! or something like that. The lens dissolves, the camera pans to my feet, and a few seconds later you see the bottle of lens solution fall to the floor in slo-mo, followed by the sound of my bloodcurdling scream and maybe a few drops of blood. Cue opening credits and Moog synthesizer (or maybe something like Danzig’s “Blood and Tears,” hee).

Several minutes of myopic hunting around didn’t turn up any lenses, and Hubs was going to be home any minute and dinner was already late so I didn’t have time to go feeling around every inch of the kitchen floor to look for the thing–it wasn’t like I was going to put it in after it had been on the floor, anyway; I regularly steam-clean the tile with my steam mop, but still. I also regularly stand there in my bare feet and drop/drip food on the floor as I cook. So I took another lens out of the package, popped it in, and ahhh–clear vision! Time to shrug and move on, right?

Except the same thing happened with the left eye. This time, though, Hubs had arrived as I prepped to put the thing in (you know, if you didn’t know the “thing” here referred to a contact lens, that sentence could take on a whole new dramatic implication), and the kids wandered into the kitchen, and so I was not only distracted but in no mood to go hunting around for the “lost” lens. I put another one in and got on with dinner, figuring, eh, weird, and I’ll go to the eye doc asap to ask him about it, but no biggie. I was/am pretty sure it’s impossible to see properly if you’re doubling your vision correction, so I wasn’t going to worry about it.

Fast-forward to Wednesday night. My eyes have been a little dry and irritable, and Hubs and I watched a sad movie so I got a little teary, which for some reason always makes my contacts impossible to see through afterward. I usually take them out, give them a rinse, and put them back in, but it won’t hurt my eyes to go sans lenses for the night.

I take out the right lens and put it in its case. It magically becomes–yep–two lenses! (Just wait; I promise it gets even stupider.) Two lenses. I’ve been wearing two lenses in my right eye this whole time. How the hell I managed it is beyond me, but I managed just the same. The thing I can’t figure out is why the double-lens didn’t blur my vision, but hey, maybe I’m wrong about that. It’s certainly possible, given that I’m the dumbass who actually considered the possibility that my contact lens somehow dissolved in either thin air or somewhere in the process of application, so…

I brace myself and remove the lens from my left eye. This time, though, there’s only one lens. Yay, sigh of relief. (Remember, I wasn’t sure about the left eye; the lens could have fallen off my finger, and I didn’t really spend much time hunting thanks to my magically-disappearing-lens-theory.)

Now, if you’ve ever worn contact lenses you know that when you first put your glasses on after wearing contacts, everything looks really weird and tiny and it can be nauseating for a little while. (If you haven’t ever worn contact lenses and didn’t know that, well, now you do.) So I stumbled my way through the bizarrely teeny world on my suddenly-miles-away miniature feet, grabbing things with my munchkin hands for balance, and sat down to focus on my laptop until the queasy ickiness passed.

But my glasses didn’t seem to be doing their job properly. I could see through them, nothing was outrageously blurry, but things were blurry enough to make me wonder. Maybe I was just tired, I thought, so after working for about an hour I went to bed–I don’t have the same vision weirdness when I put on my glasses after getting up (in fact, often when I’m going to take out the lenses I do it late at night and go straight to bed without even putting the glasses on at all–I just feel my way upstairs through a blurry house).

Trust me, guys. It gets even stupider.

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to hear that things were not better in the morning. Something wasn’t right. My left eye seemed blurry and weak when my glasses were on, but when I took them off, my left immediately became dominant. What was going on?

Now, before you laugh too hard at me, remember that I’d taken my lenses out and two had come out of my right eye, but only one from my left–but my vision in my left had definitely deteriorated when the lens came out, which, if I were wearing two contacts, both of which had equal vision-correcting ability, shouldn’t have happened, right? If you need a -9.5, which I do, and you have a -9.5 in your eye, your vision would be perfect/corrected. That’s pretty basic. So if my vision is not corrected, it stands to reason that I don’t have a contact lens in that eye.

So I’m getting worried. I talk to Hubs about stopping in at the eye doc the next day, and hopefully he’ll have time to take a look or help me out. Shit, were my years of lens abuse catching up to me? I have never been good about taking out my lenses every two weeks like you’re supposed to; in fact, I’ve been horrible at it, like, wearing my lenses for an obscene amount of time. I rarely remember to deep-clean my lenses or use an enzymactic cleanser (meaning, before I started wearing disposables–are enzymactic cleansers still a thing?). For months a long time ago I wore a lens with visible protein deposits, a lens cloudy with age, because I was poor and lazy and twenty-one years old so couldn’t be bothered spending money on vision correction when there was beer to be bought instead. Was it finally catching up to me? My eye doc–a hunky Aussie whom I adore–informed me at my last exam that my eyes were in excellent shape even though I had no right for them to be (yes, he literally said this, because he is awesome and hilarious), and that if he hadn’t watched me take those lenses out he wouldn’t have believed that I wore them based on the pristine condition of my eyes. (The lesson here, of course, is that if you’re irresponsible with your contacts, your eyes will be healthy and strong.) I’d been so proud, and now this.

(And you know, I’m joking, but the idea of losing my eyesight is genuinely terrifying, as I’m sure it is for many of you. I was pretty sure nothing was seriously wrong, because “vision has improved” isn’t usually a symptom that something is seriously wrong with one’s vision, and my vision in my left eye definitely seemed better, but still. It was a little scary.)

Then it occurred to me that I’d just taken those lenses out of the one box and put them in. Was my script still the same in both eyes? Maybe it wasn’t. I couldn’t remember for sure. And my vision has actually improved a tad since the appointment before my last, going from a -9.75 to a -9.5 (my current script); the only benefit to getting a little older is that many people start to become a bit farsighted, and when you’re severely nearsighted that’s a good thing. So maybe my left eye hadn’t required as strong a prescription to begin with, and maybe I’d accidentally put in a lens too strong for it, and that was why I was having this fairly-minor-but-still-unsettling issue.

That needed to be checked out! So back into the house I hop (I’d been outside having a cig–smoking is also Good For Your Eyeballs), to check the prescription strength on the boxes. This was it, I was sure of it. I opened the cabinet, yanked out the box–it’s the cabinet where we keep all the medicine and first-aid stuff, so a bunch of band-aids and aspirin and shit tumbled out onto the countertop, which is always fun–and took a look at the prescription strength written on the end of the box.

-3.75.

-3.75? Now, I couldn’t remember if my left eye had improved, or if it had, how much it had improved by, but I was pretty damn sure that it hadn’t suddenly become better by over half. I haven’t been a -3.75 since childhood, I mean, my eleven-year-old Faerie is a…oh, for fuck’s sake.

I’d been wearing my daughter’s contact lenses.

THAT was why doubling the lenses gave me fairly acceptable vision.

Even better, Faerie’s contacts are Daily Wear. I’d had them in for a week and a half.

Good lord.

See, back in April or thereabouts, Faerie asked for contacts, as she’s been doing for some time. I talked to Hunky Eye Doc and he agreed to try it despite her only being eleven, given my extensive experience with contact-wearing and my agreement to monitor her closely; while we both–well, and all of you, now–know that I am not always as on-the-ball (no pun intended) as I should be with my own lenses, being lazy with my precious Faerie’s beautiful big brown eyes was NOT going to happen. (Both of my girls have their father’s big gorgeous brown eyes, which is lovely, though I do admit wishing at least one of them had blue eyes like mine. It was a possibility, since hubs’s father had blue eyes, but it didn’t happen.)

So he gave her a set of trial pairs, and she tried them out, but quickly decided–all on her own–that she was not ready for the responsibility yet, and that she would rather just stick with glasses for a while longer. We were all very proud of her for making that decision, which was difficult for her. And the end result is that we had several pairs of these -3.75 Daily Wear disposable lenses floating around the house, and her mother, in a fit of blinding (pun intended) stupidity, mistook them for her own lenses and then invented bizarre theories about dissolving silicone to cover for her own moronic lapse.

Sigh.

I am now wearing my own contacts again, of course, and Hubs and the girls will probably use this failure to think as teasing fodder for years, but it’s only what I deserve. Seriously, guys, I wore my daughter’s contact lenses, how stupid is that? Sheesh.

Other news: Still no proper treatment for my carpal tunnel, but I am pushing through and working very hard. I will have some news for you soon, and a new excerpt of MADE FOR SIN (and the first review for it has come in–it’s a Reviewer Top Pick at Night Owl Reviews! More on that in my next post) and some excerpts of other stuff, including, if you’re good, a glimpse at Downside 6.

If you want to cheer me up by telling me about something monumentally stupid you’ve done in comments, that would be great (remember, I DO allow anonymous comments) but not necessary.

What Stace had to say on Thursday, February 3rd, 2011
Edits are up to you

I hadn’t actually planned to start my little series on editing today, but this topic came up last night in email with a good friend of mine, and it annoyed me, so here we go, and we’ll do more next week (including copyedits, which will be fun, I think, and of course I’m going to use pages from the original mss of UNHOLY MAGIC and CITY OF GHOSTS to illustrate, which, again, will hopefully be fun).

Anyway. My friend and I were discussing edits, and the fact that someone she knew got a set of edits where the editor actually wrote in new dialogue.

Editors are not supposed to do this.

It is not their job.

They can tell you that conversation/line doesn’t work for them. They can maybe suggest new lines, by saying “Maybe you could try having Character A say he hates that, and Character B can say he knows, and that might make the joke clearer?” But anything beyond that is them trying to write your book for you, and you shouldn’t let them do it.

It seems to me that, especially when you get into the micropress/epress area, the favorite excuse of lame publishers for why an author might be upset with them is “S/he refused to accept editing.” “Oh, Author A is only saying we’re a total high-school clique house because she refused to accept editing so we dropped her.” “All those authors are mad because they’re prima donnas who refused to accept editing.” That sort of thing.

And I think that atmosphere, that sort of Red Pen of Damocles hanging over every writers’ head, permeates the world of writers’ forums etc., and leads many to the belief that they have to accept all suggested edits, no questions asked. If the editor says “Change this,” it better be changed.

Sadly, I also have no doubt that at some little crappy places, that is indeed the case. I know I was required to fight tooth and nail about factual accuracy, against an editor who believed people in the medieval period used hieroglyphs to communicate in writing. I’ve heard similar horror stories from small- and micro-press friends; maybe not quite as bad as that, but lots of tales about style and voice being removed and replaced with plodding paint-by-numbers writing.

Then there’s the matter of “house style,” which in a lot of cases can be downright lousy, and sometimes doesn’t make sense at all. “House style,” though, is unfortunately the one thing you’re probably not going to be able to fight with. You may be able to keep a comma here or a semicolon there if you can make a good enough case for it, but beyond that you’re going to need to let it go.

“House style,” though, isn’t generally messing about with your actual writing. It may be ridiculous things, sure, like completely interrupting the flow of a sex scene by inserting a hard break to indicate a POV switch (because we’re all so paranoid about “head-hopping” that we refuse to accept that readers are not in fact stupid, and are perfectly capable of dealing with one POV switch), or being forced to change every “start” in your book to “begin,” or whatever, because someone thinks “start” sounds “common.” But usually it’s just a few little bits here and there.

Editing is different, and editing is up to you.

It’s your book. You wrote it, and it belongs to you, and your name is on it. Yes, there is a line. An editor can refuse to accept the book, thereby requiring you to give back your advance and lose the contract, if you won’t make any changes at all. I’ve never heard of it happening, but then, most writers I know believe–as I do–that editors are generally awesome, and that it’s fun to work with them, and that they’re right most of the time with their suggestions.

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a line, and it’s a line you do NOT have to cross. It certainly doesn’t mean they’re right all the time. You do NOT have to accept every edit, every suggestion, every wording change. You certainly do NOT have to allow anyone to re-write part of your book for you, absolutely not.

Working with an editor is just that–working with an editor. It’s the two of you–and maybe your agent, or maybe the editor’s assistant might have an idea, or a friend of yours who’s read the mss might come up with something you like–working together to make the book as good as it can be. It’s not you handing your work over to someone else to change it and turn it into something that isn’t yours.

There’s a difference between edits, as in your editorial letter, and edits, as in line edits, too. When I get edits from my editor at Del Rey, it’s in the form of an email or Word doc with all of her thoughts, good and bad (I firmly believe a good editor tells you what they love about the book, too; they don’t simply assume that you know they like it since they bought it. A good editor wants to talk to you about your book and the things they love about it).

I go through and implement her suggestions, basically. I may disagree with one, and discuss it with her, but so far I can think of only one editorial suggestion I dug my heels in over, and that ended up working out just fine–a quick change of something else, and it became a moot point. Really? There shouldn’t even be many issues if any, because you should agree with most of your editor’s thoughts. If s/he’s a good editor, and you’re not a Speshul Golden-Words Snowflake, most if not all of the suggestions should fall into the “Oh, riiiiight!” category.

Then come line edits. (My last few books, my ms has been sent back to me with an editorial letter and some notes made on the ms, so it’s like a combination of the two.) Line edits are “This line makes no sense,” basically. I often get “What the hell is Bump saying here, because I can’t understand him at all,” but of course, that’s me. Line edits might also be “This paragraph is overkill,” or whatever. This is where “kill your darlings”–advice with which I disagree, frankly–comes in. Lots of those overkill lines? Yeah…those are probably the “Stacia knows this is probably too much but look how good that sentence is!” lines. So those have to go. (I often stick them into a special Word doc in case I have the chance to use them later. Of course, then I never open it and re-use them, but whatever. I still have them, my poor deleted darlings, and I can go frolic in the midst of them whenever I choose.)

There may be some typos tossed in throughout there, too. There usually are. No matter how hard I try to make the ms perfect, there’s always going to be something I miss before I send it to my editor, mainly because I’ve read the damn thing so many times I see what should be there, not what is.

There will also probably be some story inconsistencies or whatever to clean up, from my own edits. If I decide to switch from having two ghosts to one, for example, I need to make sure I’ve done what is called “Following through on the cut,” and removed every reference to “they/them,” “the two ghosts,” whatever. I often miss this stuff too, again, because I’ve been going through it so much/so many times.

My editor also catches the occasional repeated word, as in “Slowly the ghost moved toward her. It raised its arm slowly, the knife in its spectral hand catching the moonlight and sending it right into her eyes, blinding her.” I don’t always notice these when I’m actually writing, and while I catch most of them when I’m editing before I turn the book in, again, I can’t find everything. I hate repeated words, actually. They bug me almost as much as sentences that begin with participial phrases (dangling or not), which I loathe with a fiery and all-devouring passion, and will never, ever use, because they’re so awful I can’t even find a way to describe how awful they are. (Let me just say, though, that ninety-nine times out of a hundred, you find them in the mss of newbie writers, because they think that sentence construction is “writery” or professional, thus making them look very smooth and clever. It’s not, and it doesn’t.)

Anyway, enough of that rant. The point is, edits are something you do with your editor, not for or in spite of. You get to make the choice, and there is nothing wrong with doing so. I’d say when it comes to “regular” edits–as in editorial letter/line edits–I probably accept pretty much all of my editor’s suggestions, because I trust her, and because in most cases I agree with her. With copyedits it’s probably more like 50-75%, depending on how good the CE is, of course.

An editor is there to help you, and to help make the book as good as it can be. They are not there to rewrite your book themselves, and they are not there to remove your voice and turn it into something a third-grader would have written.

I can’t remember who said it, but I read an awesome quote a little while back. It basically said, “The only rule of grammar a writer needs to follow is to make himself understood. Everything else is style.”

It may not be true all of the time–well, it isn’t, not ALL of the time–but it is most of the time. You don’t have to let yourself be treated badly, you don’t have to let control of your work be taken from you, and you don’t have to agree to every edit.