I’m in the middle of working with my editor on the current work in progress. I’ve posted here before about what that revision process is like, but here’s a quick synopsis before I get the meat of this post. The process goes something like this:

‘This is the best thing I’ve ever written!”

“This is the worst thing I’ve ever written!”

And so on. You get the idea. But today, I was focused in particular on four chapters that were so bad they even had the editor confused. She had to resort to a spread sheet to figure out what was going on. All four chapters lacked a reaction to previous action, a goal, and a new scene. The problem was the linear way I wrote individual stories and stitched them together, and was actually fixed (I hope) by the end of the day.

But here’s something I noticed, that all writers will recognize.

I was so deeply immersed in the story today, that it became more real to me than what was going on around me.

My husband would come in for something, like starting to cook dinner, and apologize for distracting me. Of course it was no distraction, but each time something like that happened there was this weird disconnect where, for a moment, I wasn’t sure what was going on.

Have you ever been deeply asleep and in the middle of a dream, when the alarm goes off or the phone rings, or something jolts you awake? There’s that moment of feeling like the world just tilted, where you don’t know where you are, or which is the true reality.

That’s the way it’s been today. My focus has been so zeroed in on the characters, that I could hear them talking, that I was right there with them, and that my husband became, for a brief moment in time, the imaginary character in a story. I may have to go pinch him to make sure he’s real.

There’s always a similar sensation when writing, of course, when the words are flowing perfectly and the outside world disappears. But today there was a different intensity to that and I think it was because the focus was on editing rather than creating.

I’ve spent three years with these characters, shaping the story around them. So it’s not like they’re strangers. But today it was like they were lost and I had to work hard to walk the trail with them.

Even now, while taking a break, my mind is only partway paying attention here. I’m still back there in the story. More than likely, knowing me, I’ll dream about it tonight.

It’s getting late. But I think I can spend one more hour in their world. On to the next chapter.

A Compliment…And A Secret

Some of you know that my current work in progress is in the hands of my editor. Today she sent an email with this:

“This is really clever. Seriously clever. You’ve got 2 sequels — chapters 2 and 3 — to chapter 1, that lead seamlessly as a pair to chapter 4. Really really really well done, and something you should use at some time in the future when you give a class on how to break rules to benefit the story.”

Do you think I should tell her it was a fluke, or let her continue thinking I’m brilliant?


Green Bodies

Many years ago a local woman came to a planning commission meeting with information on green burials. This was where you could bury someone and allow them to decompose naturally. At the time, this was a radical idea that never gained traction. But I loved the thought that I could fertilize trees.


Some people were grossed out by the idea, even though it was nothing new. This is how we did things before burial became a business.

Some were worried about contaminants, others about their religious beliefs.

Those same arguments circled when cremation was a ‘new’ practice. Of course cremation wasn’t truly new because cultures had also been doing that for hundreds of years. Think of those flaming Viking ships sent out to sea. What made cremation ‘new’ was that it was a new way to conduct the business of burials. A slightly cheaper way, but still a money-maker.


Washington State just legalized human composting as a burial option. I am so, so thrilled by that. Isn’t it about time?

I love the idea that soil can be returned to my family and they can plant a rose. Or that they can choose to donate the soil for forest restoration. But as much as I love the idea, it’s way too costly still.

It bothers me that it is still a death-business. It’s being billed as more affordable. Really? Look at the numbers. A traditional burial can cost up to $9,000. Cremation can cost almost as much depending on what you want, although it can be as low as $1,000 (think cardboard box and spreading ashes), which is still difficult for many to pay. Composting sounds like it will run around $5,000.


Explain to me why death is a business. Please. I get that everything these days is regulated. But why must death be so expensive that people have to budget and save or take out loans? Someone dies, the body is taken away from you, and you have to pay to get it back. And pay a lot. You have no choice. It’s almost like kidnapping and holding someone for ransom. My thought is if they want my body so badly they can keep it. The idea of my family having to bankrupt themselves just to get me back in some form is awful.


Because composting is considered new, the usual fears are circling again. Will it be safe for pathogens and disease? Will it be safe for heavy metals? What if a person has been radiated? And of course, there’s always religion and those who believe a physical body is needed for resurrection.

I get some of those reasons are why regulation is needed. Regulations will ensure a process that is consistent. But I still don’t agree with the cost.


Why hasn’t someone taken up the banner of socializing death as well as healthcare?

Though I suppose if we have to pay to be born we should also pay at the other end.

Maybe by the time I die composting will have been around long enough that costs come down. And then my husband can plant a new rose.

And wherever I am, there will be a day when I hear his voice yelling at the dog, ‘quit digging!’