Monday, April 12, 2010

I'm not your bitch, Mr. Adverb, sir...

I can't say anything funny because I'm sitting here with a clarifying mask on, feeling it suck the life out of the pores of my skin, and if I laugh or smile, the mask will crack. Is this what Botox feels like? (How can people inject that crap into their face? Don't they realize that Clostridium botulinum is, uh, super scary shit?)

I should be editing. I'm so stuck on adverbs--what is this hate/hate thing I've got going on with those little words that modify verbs? Why so much hate? Why do I tell anyone who will listen that one of *the* most popular contemporary writers in the world today loves her adverbs like she loves her three children? I mean, c'mon, who am I to judge when her books, stuffed with more adverbs than there are pine beetles in BC forests, have sold over 20 million copies worldwide? Why must I be stalked by nightmares of adverbs chasing me through dark alleys, their "-ly" endings threatening to undo the last shreds of my sanity?

Because adverbs = shoddy writing. A few are okay, but there are purists in this realm of books & such (and not just any folks but those with impressive writing creds and published books on shelves) who have cast adverbs out of their vocabularies and who argue "real" writers should endeavor to do the same.

But it's soooooo hard! Seriously! <---See what I mean?

I'm not trying to be a grammar nazi, although I sort of am. I just want to construct, and read, cohesive sentences that aren't entangled by unnecessary crap. Is that asking for too much?

And yet, as I sit here editing, the same 467 pages again, I am underlining too many adverbs. I feel less than worthy, like Steven Galloway would shake his head for spending all that time trying to make us better writers, and for me to run out and inject more "suddenly," "immediately," and "softly" into the work.

I made the mistake of getting too cheeky in a recent email exchange with a potential agent--I challenged her to find more than two typos in my entire manuscript (she asked for the MS; I didn't just willy-nilly send it to her, folks). I'm a copy editor--I'm good at finding boo-boos--though perhaps not. I've begun anew the process of trying to remove 35,000 words or so (not gonna happen) to make the first book more aligned with industry norms, and I've found more than two errors. Not typos, per se, but grammatical missteps. I'm so ashamed.

I have to go wash the mask off my face. It's bringing too much clarity.

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