In America, we call it a “Dumpster”

Original Post Date March 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM

Sometimes, getting through manuscript edits require maximum security style lock down. And heckling from the peanut gallery. We explore how both contributed to last week’s epic revisions.

My intention was to get on that manuscript and address my editor’s notes as soon as I returned from Nashville. However, I lost two days. My body didn’t take the shock of mountain to beach so well. To compensate – maybe, overcompensate? – I decided to throw down graduate school style, pulling all-day and all-nighters until I got through all her notes. I put the coffee pot on, loaded my epic play list, and when into shut-in mode.

Three nights and two days of straight editing and I pulled it out pretty good. Got the easily repairable items out of the way. Sunday afternoon, I got reinforcements. My writing partner came over. Marie wanted to work on her novel, and I needed to bounce scenarios off her. It was a good opportunity for creative synergy. I made sure to shower and brush my teeth, and clear up the disaster area that was my workspace. I didn’t want to frighten her away.

During this phase of editing, I was employing the Read Aloud. Reading what I just wrote or corrected out loud so I can experience the flow of the work. You see, I produced the original draft of this work during my ascetic phase. I didn’t listen to music and didn’t speak unless spoken to for an entire year. Not surprisingly, one of my editor’s critiques was lack of flow, and she instructed me to do the read aloud as I updated the manuscript.

I launched into a read aloud of one section, an event involving a character finding an abandoned vehicle by the waste receptacle. I heard Marie laugh. It wasn’t intended to be comedic, so I read it again, once more ending with the words, “waste receptacle.” My writing partner cackled. I got flustered. “Well, what do you call those big things you put trash in?”

“Uh, in America, we call it a Dumpster.”

Marie’s dead pan delivery of that now obvious correction sent us into a lengthy round of laughter. Another note from the editor I was to address: my vocabulary was too advanced, and in some areas, it was evident I learned to write in English elsewhere. I did. The foundation of my creative writing was constructed during trips to North Sea islands, castles in Cologne, and a week in Paris. I didn’t perfect the English language in Mericuh.

To disturb my writing partner further, I played bluegrass and classic country as we worked. She clutched her notebook with confused uncertainty as I sang word for word along with Waylon Jennings, David Allen Coe, Earl Scruggs and Johnny Cash. Well, Johnny Cash shouldn’t be a surprise. I explained, “I’m using the music to create a Texan mystique.”

She cackled some more.

If Tennessee Williams can represent the voice of the South, perhaps I can represent the voice of the itinerant American? Hmm. Allow me to formulate an appropriate stratagem as I sing, “Momma, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

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