Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Is Writing?

For some, writing is merely putting words on a page, much as RRFUNERAL-mourners_writeI have done here.  For others, it requires intense concentration and labor.  That’s what happens when I work on a poem, novel, or essay.  It's hard work and not always a labor of love.

I was reminded of that today when I was thinking about how long it had taken me to write the first draft of my novel and how long it has taken me to edit it.  Think 1 year for the writing and 2 years for the editing, but keep going because I am still editing with no end in sight.

Yes, that’s the truth.  Writing is fairly quick until you try to make it good, to make it worthwhile to read, to make it interesting, even compelling.  The rewrite requires word-by-word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph analysis. 

Are the words spelled correctly?  Are they the right words?  Would another word work better? Is a word vague, needing description? Do I have too many pronouns, too many adjectives?  Can I make my verbs stronger?

Is the sentence all that it could be.  Should it be shorter?  Should it be longer? Does it even belong here?  Would it read better if the sentence was omitted? 

Where should I break the paragraph and start a new one?  How do I write one paragraph so it flows into the next? What might work better in another paragraph, another place in the book?  What should be removed?

The questions about words, sentences, and paragraphs overlap because they are subsets of the whole.  It’s a process that dedicated writers go through every time they edit their work.  My novel has been cut and pasted and added to and subtracted from all in the hope of making it stronger. 

Two sources I rely on to help me in this process are readers and editing tools.  Good readers point out problems I may not see; editing tools, such as a Thesaurus, give me ideas, while others analyze my document and show me overused words.  These all have a place in my editing arsenal.

What tools do you use?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year’s Fare

Something different.  Not being a renowned cook, I decided to try something simple for New Year’s Day.  I DSC_0001found some meaty almost boneless pork ribs at the store.  I had some Hungarian paprika that my Hungarian friend had given me.  I found frozen sauerkraut in the freezer.  I had caraway seeds in the refrigerator, bay leaves in the cupboard, and onions are always present at my house.  Here is my simple New Year’s fare: 

  • Wash the ribs and dry with paper towels
  • In a plastic bag, mix 1/3 c. flour, about 1/4 cup paprika, 1/2 t. salt, and pepper to your tasted.
  • Toss the ribs in the flour mixture
  • Brown in a fry pan with a little oil over medium high heat.
  • Cut the onion in thin slices
  • After the meat has browned place it in a crock pot.
  • Put the onions in the fry pan with a little more oil, if needed and sprinkle in any remaining flour mixture.
  • Cook stirring constantly until the flour begins to brown and the onions are evenly red from the paprika.  Some of the flour will stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 1/2 cup white wine and stir quickly. to get the bits off the bottom of the pan then pour it all over the ribs in the crock pot.  Pour another 1/2 cup chicken (or beef) broth over.
  • Add a package or can of drained and rinsed sauerkraut, a pinch of caraway seeds, and a couple of bay leaves. 
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours, then enjoy.


I serve it with sour cream, mashed potatoes (Idahoan tastes most like real mashed potatoes), and green beans.