Posts Tagged ‘Editing’

I spent the better part of this weekend helping my neighbor prune grapes. I have a small hobby vineyard, about 90 plants. My friend Jack has a small commercial operation 1100 plants. In comparison my plot is miniscule and yet it takes me a good deal of time to maintain discipline in my vineyard. Being so small I can afford the luxury of slacking off when it comes to allowing vines to spread out and become friendly with their neighbors. Jack does not share this privilege. Eleven hundred plants intertwining and running amok can be disastrous. If allowed to go, grapes will form an impenetrable hedge.

We were removing secondary shoots. Each vine initially produces a set of leaves every four inches or so. Once established, the plant seeks to extend its domain by producing an additional shoot at the vortex of where the first twin leaves sprout. Given the opportunity, this shoot will result in a new vine with its own set of leaves and sprouting secondaries, until the plant becomes jungle like, covering the ground in all directions. Secondary pruning is critical in a large vineyard. Jack’s grapes stand at rigid attention in neat rows. Mine slouch about in a more or less organized cluster daring me to do something about it.

So there crouched I, picking meticulously at tiny shoots, alternatively getting baked by the sun or soaked in rain. Each plant takes from two to four minutes to properly remove secondaries. Eleven hundred plants…you do the math. Believe me there is little romance in taking care of vineyards. Forget the image of bronzed Anthony Quinn shading his brow against the sun with muscular forearm¬† while a mariachi band tinkles in the background and Sophia Loren swoons on the medieval balcony of a Tuscan villa. Romance comes after the grapes have been fermented and consumed.

While thus enslaved engaged I began to muse about writing and how we as authors prune our manuscripts before secondary story line creates literary jungle out of our work. My editor must have labored in a vineyard because he was ruthless very effective in getting me to prune and cut in a way I could never have imagined. My next book CHASING THE DRAGON’S TAIL lost twelve thousand words before he considered it manageable. He was of course correct, and I now view all my material with the sharp eye of a pruner.

Faithful readers,

I have been very negligent in keeping up with a timely correspondence. There are numerous excuses I might offer, but I won’t bore you patient readers, other than to say I’m sorry. Very soon I will begin posting the first few chapters of my up and coming book. Of course this is a bait and hook exercise and only a teasing amount will arrive prior to publication. But then you rarely get something for nothing.¬†

As always thanks for reading.

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Kristen Lamb

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