Sunday, December 30, 2012

Showering with Barbra


C. Neuroticus Absolutus

My oldest and dearest friend used to tell acquaintances that he “showered with Barbra Streisand every morning,” adding a chuckle and a mischievous smile that underscored his charming character.

Upon retirement, I took up pen and joined myriad writers working on the Great American Novel. Under merciless critique, I endeavor to choose appropriate verbs and nouns to best described the object, emotions and actions of my protagonist and antagonist and to do so with an economy of words. In addition, my mentors incessantly warp my mind with the latest affectation of the pundits of the trade: “Don't tell, show.”

These things merged in my mind this year as I listened to Streisand rip through her hectic version of Jingle Bells, waiting for, begging for her to take a breath. The feverish musical arrangement beautifully reinforces the tone of the lyric, especially the verse, which begins with, “Dashing through the snow...”

You see? There it is! A single word: Dashing! I began to wonder if composer James Lord Pierpont realized in 1857, when he wrote the song, how precisely he captured the substance of the scene, the actions and emotions in that single word. I considered possible alternatives. Running through the snow? Sliding? Flying? Gliding? Racing? Sprinting? Crashing? No, those wouldn’t do. Dashing, the first word of the phrase, captures the essence of the entire song.

Dashing expresses exhilaration. Exuberance. It illustrates a youthful, reckless regard for life and limb. And fun. “Oh, what fun it is to ride. . .”

I’ve heard Jingle Bells hundreds of times, the first time over seventy years ago as a child in our living room, my father playing the piano, my mother singing along. But each Christmas season, it is always my old friend's remark that comes to mind each time I hear Barbra sing Jingle Bells. I remember his chuckle, the impish glint in his eye and the upturned corner of his mouth as he says, “I shower with Barbra Streisand every morning.”

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Good Intentions


C. Neuroticus Absolutus

My desire to complete The Back Nine, my Work In Progress, by the end of fall was well intentioned. But grand designs collapse under the weight of the volumes of To-Do lists my wife - good woman that she is -  dreams up daily. I suspect that someday I'll get even by making her a character in one of my novels. Just kidding. Really!

I certainly am closer to reaching my goal of getting The Back Nine published but not quite yet. I have an edited (many times) total of 91,325 words. I did manage to get it under 90,000 words at one point. However, that was before I found two glaring mistakes that required considerable rewrite. My timeline had been constructed by a complete idiot. (What's the use of being anything at all if you're not at the top of your game, ergo, a complete idiot.)

The second problem I encountered is not so easy to admit. Not if I wish to maintain my wits. To wit: I was a half-wit. There! I've said it! In attempting to construct a plot worthy of an Edgar award, I outwitted myself. Salvaging my draft from the Recycle Bin (one of many such acts), correction of my unwitting stupidity required no less than three rewrites. My wife, love of my life, was witness to my cries of defeat in which, I suspect, she took great pleasure.

I take pleasure in announcing that I am ready to attempt translation of the manuscript to Mobipocket Creator and then to html. Whether these translations are accurate or not, a complete reading of the manuscript is again necessary to identify errors and purge them. I'm sure my bride will be there to hold my head and my hand.

With the holidays upon us, I will be lucky to find time to complete any more of this. Any incompatibility between programs will bring me to my knees, my head extended, tears in  my eyes, awaiting the fall of the editorial axe.

One additional project (besides Christmas and New Years) that remains before year's end is to get up all the multicolored, almost-microscopic glitters that have suddenly appeared on all my clothes, my hair, my dog, the furniture and the carpets throughout the house.

Perhaps the best I can do at this one remaining point in my sanity is to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and the Happiest of New Years!

Oh, and have a White Christmas!