Gaslighting

Can a computer be haunted? Malevolent or maybe only a bit mischievous? Or have I lost my mind? At this point I’m not sure which would be preferable.

Yesterday, my editor, the wonderful Rachel Carrera, sent me the computer files containing the edits for the last twenty or so chapters of Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort. Immediately upon receiving the files I added them to the “read aloud” document I’d started the night before. (Reading the manuscript aloud is a good way to find clunkiness and other stuff—it also gives me a headache and a sore throat, but that’s another story.)

Knowing that Rachel was sending me the final chapters, I’d painstakingly saved all my previously revised chapters into a new document. In this new document I deleted the editing notes in order to do my read aloud more fluidly. I never deleted the original file with Rachel’s notes. Thank goodness.

As soon as I’d added the newly arrived chapters I settled into my chair with my laptop and a cup of hot tea and began reading the prologue. About halfway down the first page I stumbled onto the word reverberated—a great word, except I’d already incorporated it three paragraphs before.

Rachel had called it to my attention when we first began edits on the book. Of course I didn’t want the word used twice in such close proximity and I’d revised immediately. So, what was it doing in this read aloud version?

I scanned ahead. None of my revisions based on Rachel’s notes were in these pages. Not a single one. I panicked a little. But, hey. This was fixable. I put the read aloud document on a flash drive and took it to Staples for printing figuring it would be easiest to mark it up as I compared it to the editing notes.

Now here’s where it gets weird. I returned home with the printed copies and fired up the computer, opening the files I’d copied from the night before. The file that clearly reads EDITED AND REVISED WEDDING WITH NOTES.

I began marking my printed copy with changes based on the notes. The prologue was fairly easy and I scrolled down the page to substitute a different word for reverberated. But guess what? It had already been revised. The same document I’d copied and pasted the night before clearly had been revised, even though my printed out pages from the read aloud version more closely resembled my first rough draft.

I have wracked my brain for answers. And I know what everyone’s thinking: “Clearly she copied from an unrevised document.” But the thing is, the unrevised document didn’t have notes attached. Notes that I spent a good chunk of time deleting so I could have a clean read aloud copy.

Yes, I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for what happened, for what I did wrong. but I’ll be darned if I know what it is. I hoped that by writing it down I’d have an epiphany. Unless epiphany is spelled H-E-A-D-A-C-H-E, it didn’t work.

I think maybe William had a haunted laptop, too.

Peace, people.

To Be (Succinct) Or Not To Be (Succinct)

Shakespeare once declared

Brevity the soul of wit;

All the world’s a stage

Succinct Hemingway

Manuscripts pared to bare bones

Never words to waste

Miss Jane Austin, though,

Played with epic paragraphs

Bursting at the seams

Advice for writers

Can we get our stories straight?

Be succinct, methinks.

Bated or Baited Breath?

Do you ever wonder how you survived without Google? I do, daily. A couple of days ago as I wrote my thoughts on Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, I included the phrase “with baited breath.”

I looked at the phrase more than once, squinting my eyes to discern if that, indeed, was the proper way to say someone was waiting in great suspense for something to happen. On one hand, it seemed right. Bait, meaning something that entices, could perhaps suit my purposes, but it seemed like an ill-fitting puzzle piece when I examined it with eyes wide open.

This appeared to be a job for Google.

I typed in, “Is it bated or baited breath?”

Then I waited (with either bated or baited breath) for fewer than two seconds:

Bated breath vs baited breath. Bated breath is a phrase that means to hold one’s breath due to suspense, trepidation or fear. Bated breath is a phrase first mentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. The word bated is an abbreviation of the word abated, meaning to lessen in severity or amount.

Who knew that bated was short for abated? Maybe everyone but me. Shouldn’t it be shown with an apostrophebated, to indicate it’s been abbreviated?

At any rate, I changed my text to show that Quentin Tarantino was most likely waiting with bated breath for my approval. Now I just need to find a way to use baited breath. How about, “Simon was the consummate fisherman. He always had the best results after eating worms for breakfast. It seems the bass were fond of his baited breath.”

But Pinterest had a better one.

Technology is good.

Peace, people.

Salad Days 

Cleopatra contemplated and thus reflected,
“My salad days, When I was green in judgment, cold in blood”

According to Shakespeare, her dalliances with the emperor were viewed as the flighty romance of her dewy youth,

Would the mighty queen have bothered with something so mundane as a salad? A woman who chose 

Death by asp would not have bothered with a paltry bowl of greens. Pomegranates and honey, beer and bread, 

Figs and nuts aplenty, but salads most likely weren’t on her menu. Unless, of course, it was a Caesar salad. 

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