Field Report, January, 2012

  • Cups of coffee consumed:  ~80
  • Miles walked with Sallie:  ~80
  • Hours spent at desk working:  ~240
  • Words written:  ~70,000
  • Words deleted:  ~35,000
  • Words in current draft of novel-in-progress:  36,600
  • Overused words and phrases currently aware of:  20  (probably, a little, just, only, sort of, kind of, some, somewhat, somehow, very, quite, pretty much, too, really, shrug, sigh, grin, laugh, smile, feel) Note:  shocked by overuse of ‘quite.’
  • Instances of overuse of a little:  91
  • Instances of overuse of just:  92
  • Instances of overuse of kind of:  42
  • Instances of overuse of sort of:  21

QUESTION:  Am I really this wishy washy?

  • Words deleted after search for unnecessary adverbs:  228 (!)
  • Typically overused char. actions on lookout for:  5  ( shrug, sigh, grin, laugh, smile)
  • Sighs in current mss:  2
  • Grins:  4
  • Laughs:  2
  • Shrugs:  0  (!!)
  • Smiles:  19    Note:  Unable so far to weed out many smiles.  Situation requires action.  Effort ongoing, although status is low priority.
  • Previously overused char. action found nowhere in current project:  lip biting.  Note:  1 lip tremble, 1 press, 1 stick-out.  Acceptable?
  • Trips to Newberry:  1
  • Trips to Grand Marais:  3
  • Moments of self-doubt:  scattered
  • Moments of surety:  scattered
  • Moments of putting head down and plodding forward:  most
  • Blizzards:  1
  • Rainy days:  1
  • Hours spent basking by woodstove:  innumerable
  • Cool definitions not previously known which won’t be forgotten:  2
  1. Hokey pokey:  cheap ice cream sold by street vendors.
  2. Copasetic:  fine, excellent, quite (!) content.  from Creole, copasetique, ‘able to be coped with.’  Note:  Sadly, still unable to shoehorn copasetic into current mss.  Effort ongoing.
  • Pencils ground to nubbins at work on current project:  5  (pictured)

  • Favorite Christmas present:  electric pencil sharpener
  • Good days:  29

Report filed 1-29-12

Category: At Home | Tags: , , 14 comments »

14 Responses to “Field Report, January, 2012”

  1. Serena Casey

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one who wayyyy overuses words like somewhat, kind of, sort of, really, etc. I’ve wondered the same thing: Why am I so wishy-washy?

    We’ve got you beat on the blizzards over here on the west end – I’ve lost track how many storms we’ve had. :)

  2. Laura

    Just wanted you to know, South of Superior is going to be read aloud at my mother’s new assisted living place. I showed her copy to her caregivers along with the story behind the book and inscription, and they got all excited about it and said they would use it for the next Read Aloud.

    How cool is that?

    Laura, it’s very cool. I’m so glad! Big hug to Sue, and you as well.
    xo, Ellen

  3. ellenair

    Serena, those qualifiers are just insidious. I never fail to be shocked by my own failure to weed them out the first (second, and sometimes third) time… Jealous of your storms, kind of…

  4. Pamela Grath

    Ellen, this is PRICELESS! You are a treasure, girl!

    I too am guilty of overuse of “just,” but I don’t see the word “even” on your list. Isn’t it cheering to know that there are possible sins which you have not committed?


  5. Robyn

    So nice to see the inside of someone else’s writing process. I think my count for moments of self-doubt would be much higher. I heard in a talk just the other day that women tend to hedge more in their speech…things like “I’m no expert, but…” or “This is probably a stupid question, but…” The men were all surprised. I was not, as I have to constantly edit “it seems,” “it might,” “I think,” and “I believe” out of my writing. And then I thought, it’s not really wishy-washiness. It’s the way the world is, isn’t it? Changing, unsure, undefined. Somewhat, kind of, sort of…fuzzy.

  6. Barbara Hendricks

    When I was in junior high school my older sister gave me advice via a small poster of Peanuts characters. Lucy was emphatically saying to Charlie Brown, “If you’re going to be wishy washy, be definite about it!”

  7. Linda

    Ellen, you made me smile twice with this post. I like thinking of you cozy in your cabin writing the next great book. And you made me think of my father. One of his tag lines, after a long anecdote: “Well, I guess everything is copasetic now.” I must have heard the word every few days during my years of living with my parents. Thanks for your blog. It’s good to hear your voice, even if electronically!

  8. ellenair

    I love all these comments: The comments are surprise gifts in the toe of the Christmas stocking.

    Linda, you’ve made me think I could squeeze copasetic in after all. I’d been thinking of having a teacher use it, and here is support for that idea, an adult who used it every day. Even if I don’t use it, I’ll think of your story often.

    Barbara, I love Lucy, her personality and advice. I can just see that poster in my head. Maybe it will show up somewhere someday, in a book…

    Pamela, it’s kind and optimistic of you to say there’s a qualifier sin I haven’t committed, but what it really means is I have to go do a word search for ‘even’ now. We’ll see! Thanks for the heads-up. There was one qualifier I never used: ‘rather’. Whew. So, you’re right, there is at least one sin I haven’t committed, and it does (kind of) make me feel better. What I mainly feel is grateful for the ‘Find’ function on my word processing program. Saturday was a day of work as close to brainless as novel writing ever gets, I’d say, as I slouched in front of my computer pushing ‘find,’ considering the result, and pushing ‘delete’ as often as not.

    Robyn, Your comment makes me think so many different, interesting thoughts… In re. the moments of self-doubt: low because I refuse to entertain them, that’s all. Down that road lies madness. Hence the many–most–moments of putting head down and plodding forward.

    I’ve been aware of the tendency of women to hedge their speech for a long time, long enough that I assumed I didn’t do it much anymore, especially in my writing, but: there it was, there it is. I was profoundly dismayed by all the ‘a little’s', etc: an average of to two per page. I like your point that it’s the way of the world: changing, unsure, and undefined. Maybe that is part of why women do it Maybe it’s not only a culturally embedded insistence on women being the peacemakers, the facilitators, but also a clear and realistic way of seeing the world. I called my sister the evening after I found all those qualifiers and told her about it.
    I asked her, “Am I really this wishy washy?”
    She said, “Well, gosh, I don’t know, I wouldn’t like to say.”
    Then we both busted up laughing.

  9. Aubrieta Hope

    Keep the smiles — I like that the weeding out of smiles is a low priority. Most months have a least one rainstorm and one blizzard (metaphorically or actually) so keep on overusing those smiles!

  10. ellenair

    Thanks, Aubrieta!

  11. Maggie Wilkinson

    I’m Barb’s sister. The other old Peanuts cartoon I loved was Snoopy sleeping on his dog house (first frame), sitting up on his dog house eyes wide open ( second frame), and lying down again in the third and fourth frames with these comments: there I was…resting comfortably…Suddenly I was plagued by a self-doubt.

  12. ellenair

    Tama: PERFECT!

  13. gregory zimmerman

    if your moments of self doubt are only that many, you’re doing pretty well! some is good, too much not so good.
    (as a reader of your work of course i’ll say there’s no reason for self doubt but that won’t help now will it?)

  14. ellenair

    Thanks, Greg. The self-doubt and surety jog along at fairly low and even levels mainly because I refuse to think about it much. I just put my head down and work. : )

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