The Best Laid Plans…

Back in May or June of 2012, I was thinking about how I could hardly wait to get back into writing. After finishing the George Knightley, Esquire series, I took a little break from writing. It was partly because my last brain cell had given its all for the cause, partly because I had a whole bunch of editing jobs, and partly because I had been waiting for two and a half years for our Ethiopian adoption to go through and the stress was unbelievable.

 

But back in June, things were looking good. The adoption was finally moving, my husband and I had taken a trip to Ethiopia to meet the children (a brother and sister, aged 7 and 3) and go to a court hearing, and we were preparing for a three-week trip to the US before I returned to Ethiopia and brought the children home. Soon, I thought, I will be able to get words on paper again. I might even be able to write while I’m in Ethiopia. At least, once we’ve been home for a week or so and things are back in order at our house, I’ll be able to spend an hour or two a day writing.

 

Ha.

 

The three week trip to the States turned into a four-month stay, as there was a delay in the adoption. When we finally got back home to Ireland, I realized that I hadn’t reckoned on these children being quite so needy. Or such poor sleepers. And I had expected tantrums from the 3 year old, but not from her older brother, whose adjustment struggles were far, far greater. To my surprise, the other four children did not immediately bounce back into their pre-trip school and chore routines (did I mention that we homeschool?), and fitting the new children into a house that seemed much smaller after being in American homes was a bigger ordeal than we had thought.  Instead of having an hour or two to write each day, I’ve been lucky if I’ve run a brush through my hair at some point.

 

All that to say…I miss writing. I miss my characters. I miss being part of the Austen community. I hope I will get back to it all before long. Until then, I know that what I’m doing has eternal significance, and I don’t regret it at all.

I would, however, like a little more sleep.

 

Muphry’s Law

Among the many and varied hats I wear in this life is the editor’s hat. Of course I edit my own writing, but I also get hired to edit other people’s work. I don’t know if I can say that I enjoy it—so few books that cross my editing path are ones I want to read (for example, a book on the spiritual side of mathematics), and there’s always the stress of wondering how many mistakes I missed, even after repeated read-throughs—but it is satisfying to correct mistakes that would otherwise have sunk the book. At any rate, I came across this little piece someplace and nodded until my head ached. So very true. And the misspelled title kills me.

Muphry’s Law

Muphry’s Law is the editorial application of the better-known Murphy’s Law. Muphry’s Law dictates that:

1.if you write anything criticising editing or proofreading, there will be a fault in what you have written;

2.if an author thanks you in a book for your editing or proofreading, there will be mistakes in the book;

3.the stronger the sentiment in (a) and (b), the greater the fault; and

4.any book devoted to editing or style will be internally inconsistent.

Muphry’s Law also dictates that, if a mistake is as plain as the nose on your face, everyone can see it but you. Your readers will always notice errors in a title, in headings, in the first paragraph of anything, and in the top lines of a new page. These are the very places where authors, editors and proofreaders are most likely to make mistakes. It always pays to allow for Muphry in anything you write, or anything you are checking.

Nigel Harding

From The Canberra Editor, Volume 12, Number 10, November 2003. Canberra Society of Editors Newsletter. (This story first appeared in the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s internal bulletin.) Acknowledgments to John Bangsund, of the Victorian Society of Editors, who first coined the term.

Holiday Fun at Our House

Things learned by the Cornthwaite children this holiday season:

  1. Using a slingshot to fling peanuts against the wall usually cracks the shell and helps you get the peanuts out easier, and sometimes it shatters the whole shell. Evidently this is a labor-saving method of shelling peanuts, even though one must sweep up all the shells afterwards.
  2. Giblets are the heart, gizzard, and liver of a turkey. They also, according to boy-child #1, would make an awesome centerpiece for a holiday table.  Boy-child #1 will probably never be given carte blanche as a decorator.
  3. The large angel figure holding a sign that says “HOP” outside the church might be trying to get you to exercise, but it’s more likely that the “E” fell off the sign.
  4. Don’t put boiling-hot apple cider into a cut-glass bowl. Especially if the bowl was a wedding present.
  5. No matter how curious the lyrics to “Silent Night” make you, it’s best not to ask your parents “What’s a virgin?” in a crowded room.

We had a lovely Christmas, thank you, and I hope you had the same.

 

 

Ah, the neglected blog. It’s always here, waiting for me to write another post, making me feel slightly guilty when I remember its forlorn state.

I’ve been teaching an online writing class for high school students, imparting knowledge about how to write research papers. I was hoping for a goodly crop of bloopers from this batch–those are always good fodder for a blog post. Unfortunately, I’ve graded all but two, and the only funny mistake so far was someone writing “monotone paperwork” instead of “monotonous.”  It was good for a chuckle, but I can’t get much mileage out of it for the blog.  You’d think I’d be frantically combing the last two ungraded papers for something humorous, but I’m procrastating. Their topics are the concentration camps of World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Coming, as they do, after papers on the opium wars in China, vitamin D deficiency in the developing world, and the strategies of the generals in the Civil War, I’m in no hurry to continue to ruminate on the lack of peace on earth. Perhaps next time I’ll have some sort of rule about finding happy topics for research papers. Or perhaps I just won’t schedule final papers to fall due at Christmas!

What to do, what to do…

This is the first time in a loooong time that I’ve finished writing a book and not had another writing project lined up to work on next. I do have a story I’ve started (in a wildly different genre) that I probably should finish, but I don’t think most of the readers of my Regency fiction would be interested in it. “Build a brand” say the advice- for-writers blogs…and I agree with them. I should keep writing Knightley and Emma’s story…what happens after they marry? Or, at least, I could write another Regency-era book. A mystery, perhaps?

So far, my writing output is terribly eclectic. I have non-fiction (A chapter in a textbook about how to run a community college and a devotional book for homeschooling moms), Christian children’s historical fiction (complete with unit study for homeschoolers), Christian historical romance fiction (an early effort–don’t read it), and the Knightley books. And published under three different names. Kinda hard to build a brand around that!

It’s been very satisfying to immerse myself back into the homeschooling routine this autumn without having an unfinished book hanging over my head. Kind of like when you’ve finished final exams or something. My house is a lot cleaner, too. 🙂 So, all of that to say…I don’t know what I’m going to write yet. But it will be something, because I already miss writing. I’ll keep you posted.