a thousand pardons

I’m freezing and tired and just want to crawl into bed with you. I’m cranky from a day of sitting on the floor at Barnes and Noble doing research, without coffee, or even cozy clothes. I read about gardens and hemlocks, clouds, and jellyfish, and the sea-cow. Then I looked at books dedicated to color.

How many ways can I write the word "red" without saying brick, or fire, scarlet, or damn crimson? Without it sounding so damn written. Sometimes red is just red. It doesn’t have to be cranberry, cherry, strawberry, or Chinese apple red. Harlot or waitress red. But when I use it a thousand times, I’ve got to vary it up some. So it becomes academy red, radio flyer red, radicchio red (it’s not even red, by the way). Socialist, communist, admiral, brigade red. Oscar red. St. Nick red. Dog bowl red.

And that’s what’s it like living in my siren head going through the editorial process for Moose, clipping out the "suddenly"s and the adverbs. Circling the sentences that seem too much about the writing instead of the story. There’s still so much I want to cram in, but it will have to wait for tomorrow.

Then I think of my day and review it. It began at the pediatrician’s, for their one year wellness exam. The chicken pox vaccination. Chicken pox red doesn’t work either. Kill me now, okay?

And then it dawns on me that the slimnastics instructor wore a dusty rose leotard with matching sweatbands. Decidedly not red at all, but pink, in a Betty Boob, legwarmers, Jane Fonda videos, kinda way. Am I dead yet?



  1. candy apple red?

    god, those are a lot of descriptions for red. bravo for being so creative- i'm a political science major and wouldn't go to the political party place.

    good luck editing. can't wait for the book. hope to possess a fraction of your talent. bravo.

  2. Do you edit your own work or is this just your first review/edit before sending off to an editor?

    Editing what you've written is always problematic because we love our own words, phrases. So much of it is tied to the experience and in this case, memory described. It's easier for someone else to find these rythms of red and note it for you.

  3. Just give into it and go with menstrual red. Did it at least make you crack a smile? :) Editing can be the wooorrrssttttt.

  4. Wow Stephanie!
    I've been away from my computer for 4 days, I've had alot of reading to do here! Happy Belated birthday to your lovely beans. Good news about Lucas, that's great. You sound very busy, don't forget to take time out to relax. Dare I ask, how did your tree turn out?

  5. "Circling the sentences that seem too much about the writing instead of the story."

    I don't know if you want a really honest opinion or not, but I feel like you did this a lot in your first book and sort of "dumbed down" the writing style, at least compared to the blog which always feels more free and articulate, if sometimes verbally showy. It made me not really like the book as much as your other writing. I think that's the sort of thing that makes it more "sex and the city" than "memoir" without a chick-lit tag.

  6. Hi Stephanie, I have a question for you related to writing. Have you ever sent your writing (something you'd written in a journal, etc) to someone that you've written about? In your past relationships, or your current one, have you ever felt the need to show someone what you've written about them, in sort of an effort to make them understand more about you? I was just wondering, because lately I've had the urge to do that with someone very close to me who's asked to see my writing before, and I wonder, what are the consequences? Does it even make a difference?

    FROM STEPHANIE: I guess the question becomes… why? Why would you want to show it? How do you want them to react? If I read something someone wrote about me in their diary, I promise you, it would not make me learn more about them as a person. I'd know how they felt about me. But why wouldn't I know how they felt about me without reading it? It all comes down to what your relationship is like, and why you feel the need to share it (the stuff related to them).

    I know a lot of people who write for closure. Write letters expressing it all, then decide if they want to send that letter. Often, they realize there's no need. Sometimes they feel better knowing they've shared it. Usually the person who receives the letter couldn't give a shit what it says. You pour your heart out, and really, they just don't care.

  7. I actually thought about making a big list of all the different things that were each color so that when I wrote I could just go through it and not keep repeating myself. I want to be like the 64 pack of crayons instead of the basic 8 pack they give to kids in restaurants that no one likes. I haven't actually made the color list yet, but I'm still thinking about it. In terms of writing I feel like a pack of those big, fat, awful crayons that kindergarteners have to use where most of the crayons are broken and no one knows where the purple is. I want to have the metallic gold, silver and copper. I would do anything to be going through the editorial process on a book. Maybe one day.

    PS. I thought radicchio was more purplish. Crayola may call it red-violet.

  8. How about Ronald McDonald henna red? :) Thought you'd get a kick out of that (now that it's washed out!)

    FROM STEPHANIE: Still makes me mad. That bastard.

  9. Btw, I submitted my book proposal and 40 pages to my hopefully soon-to-be agent yesterday (along with a mock up of a book cover). Fingers crossed!! I'm soooooooo excited.

  10. Wide Lawns, I have the same feelings about the 64 pack of crayons. Call me crazy, but when I am bored I will rename all 64 colors, and write the new names on the crayons.
    Aquamarine=Tacky Thong Blue
    Burnt orange= Spray Tan
    Hot Magenta=1983 Pink

    And Stephanie, Its not just a writer's dilemma, but also an artist's concern as well. When I paint I don't want to use 'red' or 'blue'…I will use, Alizarin Crimson, Viridian, and Phthalo Turquoise. Those names just sound more beautiful.

  11. If it's a book about fat camp, I would try to make all the colors food-related.

    (That seems to be how the paint company people name the colors these days anyway.)

    FROM STEPHANIE: That wouldn't come across as trying too hard?

    "Her nails were Pizza Hut red, long, and manicured. She smelled like smoke and mints, even from far away."

  12. Next time, skip the bookstore and go get a pedicure. All sorts of great ways to call something red to be found at the spa. My new fave? Affair in Red Square. Although I think it looks a bit more like Wrapping Paper Red once applied. But that could just be the season taking hold.

    I was recently introduced to your blog my one of your longtime friends and readers. And I am so hooked.

  13. Hmmm… the book store, in December and no coffee? Are there more bundles of joy on the way?

    And for what it's worth I like, Coca-Cola, Radio Flyer and lantern red.

    FROM STEPHANIE: No bundles on the way. And certainly not trying. One day, maybe. Maybe not. Probably not. But who knows. Just couldn't get off my caboose to get myself any. I like lantern red, too.

  14. For what it's worth, to disagree with a prior poster, I commend you for editing out writing that has more to do with the writing than the story. I just forced myself to finish "The Lay of the Land" by Richard Ford. It was torturous to read. I suffered pages and pages of "unusual" adjectives and expertly-constructed metaphors which did absolutely nothing to advance the story. I know it was supposed to be introspective, but the introspection wasn't that of the character, it was that of the writer. I felt several times like Mr. Ford probably leaned back from his computer and congratulated himself on what a complex sentence he had just written.

    I say, if it's red, a good description would be "red."

  15. I would stay away from sounding commercial by using company names, but otherwise, if done well, it could work as well as the ones you posted.

    "Her nails were the color of Maraschino cherries, long, and manicured. She smelled like smoke and mints, even from far away."

  16. My husband, who has a gorgeous shade of dark red hair, was teased in grade school by kids saying his hair was "red like the hair on a dog's dick!!
    How mean !!

  17. going along with the foodie idea, Radish Red, since you're stuck eating veggies rather than pizza at fat camp..?

  18. Did someone already say Red Hot Chili Pepper? Is that even usable? Bluh, I would go nutso.

  19. Cynda said: "going along with the foodie idea, Radish Red, since you're stuck eating veggies rather than pizza at fat camp..?"

    Or, conversely, all the rich foods you were missing at Fat Camp.

  20. Sallie — . . .long & manicured like shish kabob skewers. She smelled like pork barbecue smoke & pure peppermint oil mints.

  21. Betty Boop. Not Boob. :)

    I guess I'm showing my age…

    Ladybug red, claret, ruby red? Good luck!

  22. Been wearing Fuck Me Red on my toes for I don't know how long. Of course, that's not the name of the color on the bottle. That would be Geranium, but Fuck Me Red says it so much better.

  23. Hey Stephanie. This time I want the book to release in India at the same time please, I don’t want to wait 7-8 months to read your book like I did for the first one.

    FROM STEPHANIE: You can always buy the eBook! Pretty exciting. Since it's not up to me when foreign publishers actually publish.

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