Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Good news and bad news

July 29, 2012

The good news is that my surge to finish the book and deliver the manuscript to the editor by Aug. 13 is on track. I allowed myself a bit of padding when I chose the deadline, hoping I wouldn’t panic too much (which I did anyway for a couple days).

The bad news is that I’m using up a lot of the padding with a complete rewrite of the chapter on the 70s ladies. Up until this chapter, the editing process has been a matter of reading along and feeling pretty OK about the work. I occasionally find bumps and even places where I think, “what the heck happened here?” Which means I stop and rewrite, fix the transitions and modify whatever requires it.

But the 70s chapter was the fifth chapter I wrote and I’ve realized my form changed right after that. This was the final chapter where I told the women’s stories more individually, allowing their voice to proceed more or less uninterrupted as they discussed desire throughout their lifetime. The latter chapters, which I like better, interweave the women’s observations and feature several subjects commenting on the same topic, rather than being isolated in their own life story.

I’m editing the book in order, even though I didn’t write it in order. I figure it’s imperative to read the book sequentially at least once. The fact that I made it to the 70s without any chapter screaming for a rewrite constitutes additional good news. And since the 80s chapter was included in my book proposal as “sample pages,” I know it’s going to require very little editing. The 90s chapter is short, so while it may need sprucing up, the work will be mercifully brief.

Meanwhile, I remain bogged in the 70s. The intro to the column wasn’t engaging at all; just dry statistics and overall percentages of what women told us in the general survey. So I went back and read my raw notes for the chapter and found these women imparted surprising and even shocking things about their sex lives.

One woman said she experienced so much pain with sex (right from the start) that it took two years before she and her boyfriend got all the way to full penetration. She delivered this information with no sign of how dismaying a listener might find this. Another 70s lady had several trysts with a 27-year-old lover just weeks after she was widowed and then began a tempestuous affair with a man three decades her junior. During her 48-year marriage, she took an unknown number of affairs or lovers, likely between 75-100. This information was also delivered absent dramatics; the speaker showed no expectation of her words creating surprise.

Another woman in her 70s had gone for marital counseling in her 50s and was able to speak very eloquently to the things which keep intimacy alive in a relationship when sex is no longer possible. (Her husband’s health issues are the culprit.) Yet another subject says, “I guess I got holy,” when describing how her attendance at a new church has made her disinclined to engage in the affairs of her youth. But the thrice-married woman still struggles with her sexuality: She doesn’t understand why she still has passion if she’s not supposed to do something about it. And she feels trapped by the church’s admonition against sex before marriage, since she has no desire to remarry after her third husband’s death.

Given the exceedingly rich material the 70s ladies shared with me, my chapter just didn’t do them justice. Yesterday I wrote 6 new pages of juicier stuff as a fresh introduction. Then I went through the interviews once more with my trusty colored highlighters, using them to mark comments on common topics. This afternoon it’s back to the grindstone, with the goal of more integration of the women’s stories. I’ll still let them speak at length in places, but the group as a whole needs cohesion. I can see that now.

The clunkiness of this unedited 70s chapter is reassuring in one other way: It means my skills and expertise sharpened as I worked my way further into the book, and I can now bring them to bear on my less polished work. My voice naturally became more sure as I increased my familiarity with the material and came to rely less on recitations of numbers and more on the truths I’ve found at the core of women’s desire.

This was exciting to realize—and it’s what made me sure I had to rewrite the chapter. Before I turn the manuscript over to editor Tiffany, I’m determined it will be the best I can offer.

But dang. Having to redo a whole chapter is the pits. Mumble, mumble, grumble, grumble.

And now I shall STOP procrastinating and get back to it.

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Time out for a Girl Scout

March 13, 2012

A 100th birthday party is pretty special, and yesterday my 83-year-old mother, June Rodgers, was a participant in Austin’s observance of the Girl Scouts’ centennial celebration. I’m sharing her email to her daughters and granddaughters about the event here, in honor of the gracious and welcoming way she was treated by her sister Scouts, and just because I’m completely thrilled that she was feted for her lifetime of service to the Girl Scouts — as a Brownie and beyond, all the way to troop leader, camp counselor, trainer and volunteer.

June attended 25th Anniversary

Who knew when little June became a Brownie, just as Scouting celebrated its 25th anniversary, that she would proudly attend their 100th birthday?

Here’s her version of Austin’s 100th celebration

Today I wish I was a blogger, because I really have something to blog about. I got late publicity by email about the celebration being held on the Austin capitol steps today. I was afraid the publicity was inadequate, but even if it was a flop, I wanted to be there. I had no one to go with and I didn’t expect to know anyone, but for my personal interest, I decided to brave the downtown traffic and find a parking space and go alone.

I wore green slacks (what else?) and my old badge sash over a white blouse. As soon as I walked in the back door of the capitol, I was swarmed by two senior Scouts who wanted to know about my badges. When I told them I came because I had gone to the 25th birthday as a Brownie, they pulled out cell phones and took me to meet the dignitaries.

Introduced to 3,000 Girl Scouts

I was placed in the front row and introduced to the crowd of 3,000 Girl Scouts. We sang Girl Scout songs and after a huge closing friendship circle that covered the acres in front of the capitol, I had dozens of girls who wanted to have their picture taken with me! I felt like a real celebrity. I wish I hadn’t forgotten my camera.

I was totally surprised and was so glad I had taken time to wash my hair the night before and wear my Girl Scout earrings. What fun!

Your ultimate Girl Scout Mother, Grandmother and Girl Scout Brownie buddy!

June Rodgers

Local video of the 100th Observance

Austin’s KXAN covered the event. You can see the video here.

Who will cover the 125th birthday party?

The disappointing post script to this story is that – despite their presence at the event – Mom’s local newspaper didn’t have coverage of the event this morning. She saw a glimpse of her white hair on the TV news last night, and was hopeful that some notice of the gathering would run in The Austin American-Statesman.

It was not to be. After 30 years as a journalist, I know all the reasons why there was no coverage of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts of the USA, especially in this era of downsizing. How many times did I personally deliver my stock response to readers asking why we didn’t print more “good news”?

Mom and I are looking toward 2037

Yes. I know the reasons, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

And I have to wonder, with newspapers slipping away, who will cover the Girl Scouts’ 125th birthday party?

With or without the media, I’m planning to attend any festivities the Girl Scouts see fit to arrange come 2037. I’ll be 82 that year, just one year shy of Mom’s current age.

She’ll be 108 then and I’m sure she’ll insist on accompanying me to pay her respects once again to the organization she’s loved all her life.