Turkey, Cheese, and The Need for Editors

turkey with knife and fork thanksgiving day clipartThanksgiving is probably my favorite holiday ever. Turkey isn’t the reason—after all, we can have turkey anytime of the year. But I don’t eat it very often, because I like to save it for Thanksgiving, much as I don’t make fruitcake except at Christmastime. It might be good any time, but it’s not special if it becomes routine.

The only reason I mention that is because some people don’t like turkey—or they’re vegetarians and so don’t eat it, regardless of whether or not they like it. I know someone who says his ideal Thanksgiving dinner is steak. Seriously? No way. Gimme turkey. And stuffing. And an ocean of gravy. And rutabaga! Squash! Sweet potatoes!

And then more of the same all over again for a week straight, while enjoying the memory of Thanksgiving Day with family and friends and new acquaintances, and being thankful each day for God’s abundant blessings, both physical and spiritual. Yeah. All that’s wrapped up in the taste of the turkey leftovers I’ve been eating since Thursday. Turkey makes me smile.

I don’t associate cheese with Thanksgiving, though it’s compatible with it. Here’s why I mention it:

Some months ago, I was contacted by a fellow-writer, PD Richmond, asking if I’d be willing to be interviewed on his blog. He does an interview once a week, a feature he said he calls Featured Friday, and he apologized for the cheesy name.

I told him: “I’d be happy to do an interview with you on your Featured Friday page, cheesily named or otherwise. At least you don’t call it Feta Friday. Or Immental Interviews (except I guess the cheese is spelled Emmental). Or Tilsit Talks. Sorry…
Anyway, feel free to send me your questions at your convenience. I promise to answer them without mentioning cheese.”

(I must have been overtired when I composed that email.)

His reply: “I’m a sucker for a dodgy pun! I’m now going to be very disappointed if you don’t manage to slip at least one cheese reference into your answers. (I just hope it’s a gouda one!)”

And so the cheese fest began. I answered his interview questions as requested, sent it on its way, and he scheduled it in his lineup. As it happened, it went live the day after Thanksgiving, while I was still picking turkey out of my teeth. (Only to put more into them later in the day, of course.) You can find it here.

editing-clipart-1Before sending the interview on its way, I read it carefully, and re-read it, and felt good about it. But when I saw it in its published form this week, I found several errors! Missing words and things like that. I don’t blame the good Paneer Danby (you’ll understand if you read the interview); I have no doubt he published it just the way I sent it. But I cringe when I find errors in my published work.

Meanwhile, this underscores the need for a self-published author to hire a professional editor, no matter how competent the writer. We all need fresh, unbiased eyes to look over our stuff, not only to spot typos and missing words, but structure problems, errors in word use, improbabilities in the story, and other writerly things.

Even with the top-notch critique partners that I’m blessed with, I intend to have my current WIP professionally edited before I publish it.

If I had an editor helping me with this blog post, it wouldn’t have as many errors in it as I’m sure it has. (I don’t believe I’ve ever published a post without going back and making corrections afterward. Ever.)

And if I had an editor helping me with this blog post, he or she would encourage me to wrap it up a with a bit more style than merely ending it abruptly like this.

UPDATE: Since writing this, PD Richmond has allowed me to revise my post on his site. (How very un-cheesy of him!) Now you won’t see the errors, but there were three of them; two missing words and a misplaced apostrophe. Shameful. Thank you, Pete, for making the corrections.

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For anyone who’s interested, here’s a link to my latest contribution to the Speculative Faith blog: http://www.speculativefaith.com/2013/11/27/for-the-love-of-god/

We’ll be leaving soon for Ohio to spend Thanksgiving with the Cleveland-area relatives. Wishing you all a blessed holiday!

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Thanks 365 Anyway

175Some faithful readers (for whom I am thankful!) who’ve been following this blog since last fall might be familiar with the Thanks 365 page, which I started last Thanksgiving.

Feeling as if I was drowning in the waves of negativity and complaint that continually dowsed me from various sources, I resolved to record one thing I was thankful for each day, from Thanksgiving and thereafter for the next year.

It was a nice idea, but it turned out to be a turkey. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve been thankful every day since then, but I got out of the habit of updating the page daily. Then I got so far behind, I gave it up as a lost cause.

I considered shutting it down to hide my failure, but I’ve decided to leave it up as a tribute to good intentions never followed through. I’m not sure what the purpose of that is, unless it’s to help me from becoming too full of myself. (Take that, you whiners–I’m better than you because I’m more grateful!)

No, I’m not “better” than the complainers, but I do believe I’m happier. Not because I’m more blessed, but because I appreciate my blessings. There are still plenty of things I take for granted, though, and too many times I forget to be grateful. I think we’d all benefit from marveling at our blessings and overlooking the aspects of our lives we don’t like, rather than the other way around.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Saturday SitRep

I’ve remembered to be thankful and to post what I’m thankful for for the first three days of the planned 365. You’ll also notice that since I promised it, I’ve been keeping my Monday/Thursday/Saturday blogging schedule through thick and thin. I don’t know how any of this benefits anyone, but I find an intangible satisfaction in setting a goal and keeping it.

I’d find it more satisfying if it all translated into book sales.

Thanksgiving Day was a success in our house; good food and good visiting with good people. It would have been nice to have all the kids here, but we’ll have to wait for Christmas to get the whole gang together.

Yesterday, with the help of our son, Craig undertook a project he’s been wanting to tackle for quite some time: replacing some old, leaky plumbing in the basement. Because the leak was on the pipe coming into the house from the well, they had to shut off the water to the whole house. (This is why I persuaded him to save the project for after Thanksgiving instead of doing it earlier in the week, when I was cooking and cleaning in preparation.)

Prior to shutting off the water, we drew several bucketsfull (is that word?) to use for toilet flushing and washing up, and we had plenty of bottled water for drinking. So not having water wasn’t as much an inconvenience as it would have been had we not planned ahead for it. You know, like when there’s a storm and the power goes out and the well pump doesn’t work. That’s happened often enough that it seemed odd knowing we had no water, but I could still use the microwave and get things out of the refrigerator without worrying about letting the cold out, and work at the computer all afternoon. Just didn’t seem right.

So they finished the project about 5 pm. But the glue had to set for 12 – 24 hours before you could run water through it. The lunch dishes were still in the sink unrinsed, and I didn’t feel inclined to cook and eat supper but not be able to clean up until the next day; I’m not the best housekeeper, but I do have a strong aversion to leaving dirty dishes laying around. So we had to go out for dinner. (Something else to be thankful for!)

But I’m supposed to be writing about my writing situation, not plumbing. On that front, I’m not making as much progress as I’d like, thanks to the holiday. But rest assured, all’s well in Gannah.

We saw the season’s first flits of snow last night and a few more this morning. I’m ready for winter. Also, long to-do list in hand, I’m ready to have a good, productive weekend.

Wishing you the same!

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Thursday’s Thoughts: Thanks 365

It’s Thanksgiving Day!

And I won’t wax eloquent about it. You’ve probably already heard/read just about all you care to about the historical myths and truths surrounding it, the traditions associated with it, and the proper handling of leftover turkey.

As I probably mentioned last year, we often see lengthy discussions of Thanksgiving that make no mention of giving thanks, or who we’re expected to give thanks to. But not all discussions leave that out; there’s plenty of talk about gratitude as well.

But is it like Christmas, where the holiday glow creates warm fuzzies of goodwill toward our fellowman for a time, but we soon start sniping and griping again?

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with complaining. It seems the more we have to be thankful for, the more we whine. I’d like to make my home today a “Gripe Free Zone,” allowing only gracious speech and thankfulness to pass the lips of all who enter. But I doubt my ability to enforce such a measure.

So instead of trying to press the rest of my family into a mold of my choosing, I’ll concentrate on conforming myself to it and let everyone else do as they choose. This is what I plan to do: today and every day for the next year, I’ll post to this blog on my newly-created “Thanks 365” page, one thing I’m thankful for.

I expect that at first, it’ll be difficult to limit myself to one per day. When I start listing my blessings, one thing leads to another until praises tumble out all over the place. But unless I miss my guess, sooner or later the flow of gratitude will slow and I’ll have to work at it. We’ll see how bubbling-over with thanksgiving I am a few months from now, when I’ve exhausted my standard praise list.

Have you ever read the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp? I hope to some day, but haven’t yet. I’ve heard a lot of good about it, and I like the concept. From what I’ve heard, it has a similar premise to what I propose today. I’m not copying Ann Voskamp’s idea or trying to build on what she’s started. But if you see this as a spin-off, that’s okay. Whatever gets us praising God instead of feeling sorry for ourselves.

So, you may well ask, what’s the first item on my list, the one thing I thank God for today? My cup is so full it’s hard to pour out a one-drop oblation, but here it is: I’m thankful God is leading me to appreciate the value of gratitude; I want it to take over my life.

The next time you hear me griping, remind me of that.



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