Monday, April 26, 2010

Applications of a ten-foot pole in "them there hills"

Before a crazy Saturday afternoon and evening (I drove around with an Asian in my trunk, but he wasn't naked), I watched a History channel special on a place called Lucky Friday. It's a vast silver mine in the northwest. The foreman, dirty from the bottom of his hardhat to the bottom of his boots, smiled and said between one of the informatively voice-overed snippets of bleak footage, "I say that any day underground is a good day." I came up with two conclusions after recovering from my slack-jawed dismay. Mining is hard, and it takes special types to do it well.

As of right now, I did not get into the Odyssey writing workshop. The woman did grant me the boon of the mysterious "short list" of those to be contacted if anyone who did get in backs out, and also she read over my work and gave me her feedback. I was pleased, because she seemed to have actually read the entire thing, which I can't say the same for other contests and competitions I've joined. I was also sad because she missed things that no one else who read it over seemed to. People whose editing experience was much less, and I assumed reading acumen also. I understood then that editors are not always people with any great talent, they just happen to be editing, like a janitor with a beautiful singing voice, or a math tutor who happens to have aspirations of being a writer.

Also currently, I am in a new writing group. There's only four of us; we don't have a name, but we do have direction. I have about 20,000 words of a story to read by next Wednesday, and give feedback on. The man who organized it all, whose work we're currently reading, espouses the philosophy of getting as many eyes on a project as possible. Highlight the things that all of them have problems with and fix those. He didn't say anything about the sorts of things that one person notices, but this business being an inexact science has always been painfully obvious. Because the editor at Odyssey also accused me of "bookisms, Tom Swiftys, and telling," the first two of which had my new writing group stumped, and then perusing the internet to find their meanings, I've also become aware that I might not know all the lingo. Ironic, a writer not knowing the words.

And then there's the work of my alumnus friend. That chunk of writing is much longer, and has a softer deadline, in that there is no deadline, and harder because I agreed to do it before any of the recent group foolishness happened. What's more, I was paid.

And also my own writing. The three books are nearing completion, to that point where I can conceive almost of what happens in each chapter from here, and what happens in each. The short story I'm working on is also imminent, like the det cord wasn't long enough.

So, it is a multi-step process: tough man hours are fed into places where the sun doesn't shine, the toil breaks ground and stirs a man's insides, and at the end of it all, what even was yielded is not apparent until brought up, into the light of day, and is filtered and refined into something we all hope is profitable and worthwhile. One of the coolest things in the special, was when the foreman talked about a miner examining an area after it's been blasted. He said the man that set the explosions off is the first to go back and make sure it's safe, poking at the area with a long rod to bring down any loose rock. "So," the foreman said, smiling again, "that miner is the first person ever to stand in that place, ever." That was pretty neat, I thought... and dangerous.

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