Editing Journal Week Five

Carol A. Hand

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The days I work on my manuscript feel sacred to me. It’s why I can’t do anything but manuscript work for dedicated blocks of time. And that’s why I don’t force myself to edit when I’m not in the right emotional space.

When I surface momentarily from the past, I notice the beauty of nature around me with greater presence, intensity and clarity. The antithetical contrasts with prevailing current events appear sharper.

When I peruse old books I found cumbersome or uninteresting in the past, I find treasures. The power of the Ojibwe oral tradition that seemed confusingly disorganized in the past now engages my sense of curiosity and wonder in the storyteller’s art. And I realize that’s how I write now.

Stories that are spoken in the present time flow with a logic that interweaves temporal frames. A glimpse of something in the present triggers memories. Those memories need to be shared as part of the story. Otherwise, the importance of the present won’t make much sense.

I remember writing about my writer’s space a while ago. I don’t often think about the shawl my mother crocheted for me so long ago, but it’s draped on the back of the old computer chair I sit on every day when I write. Figuratively, it “watches my back,” though I almost always take its presence for granted, even when I routinely readjust the lopsided edges.


Editing in Progress & the Shawl My Mother Made


Looking at the shawl in a photo, no one would be able to guess the meaning it has for me, or for my mother or grandmother. A simple object, yes, but it carries so many stories begging to be told. It connects people – across generations – in ways that can’t be described in a logical, chronological order. Ever.

The snippets of memories that surface depend on the context, and the stories that flow from them are molded by the storyteller’s state of heart/mind and by her reasons for sharing them. Maybe some other time I’ll try to tell a few of the stories about the shawl. Today I have other work that is calling.

29 thoughts on “Editing Journal Week Five

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind and lovely comments, Maria. I have made progress editing, although it means belated replies visits to other’s blogs. I send my best wishes to you. ❤


  1. The way you talk of your shawl prompts me to admit, I am somewhat of an animist. No, there is no somewhat about it. I have been one all my life. Sort of a closet animist, you might say. I don’t often tell that as most folks can’t fathom the concept.

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    1. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Peter. There’s a deep truth in seeing the sacred spirit within all creation from my perspective. In fact, I’ve been thinking about computers and flashdrives and DVDs of late. In some respects, they appear almost magical to me, a technophobe. I have no clue how they work, and I wonder if any of their creators have any understanding of “why” they work as they do. It reminds me of something I read on a scientific site when I was trying to understand more about lightening. The authors admitted the information posted was their best guess. There were many things they still didn’t understand. It seems less absurd to see spirits in animals than it does to think printed pieces of paper are more valuable than the lives of people, plants, animals, and stars…


    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Michael. It is an honor to see people come to life again through the stories they shared. I heard from two friends who were kind enough to review Part I of the manuscript that people’s accounts ring true in a way that is rarely seen in works about Native people. But finishing the editing process is a long, long journey…


    1. Thank you for your blessings, Rosaliene. Editing is important. No matter how many times I go through the same chapters, I still find typos and words that need to be changed. But Part I will only get one more review (this time) before I move on to Part II. 🙂


  2. The generation of my father and mother enjoyed (hmm) a time when there was plenty: more than enough work to go around: reasonable pay (thanks to unions): good free healthcare: good, free education etc. etc. As a consequence, like many others, they were the sort of people who “put by for a rainy day” which usually meant hording vast amounts of stuff.

    My generation, your generation too I believe, have different experience. We enjoyed (hmm, again!) little or no job security and our education and healthcare are far from free. We had to travel light. We don’t have the luxury of stuff and in any case a very great many of us don’t have anywhere we can put it even if we did. However, I often wonder how much less we might possess if we only kept those things we are emotionally attached to.

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    1. Important reflections about changing contexts and how they affect people’s behaviors, Rivenrod. When I moved to my little house five and a half years ago, I gave away at least half of my stuff. I’ve given away more since then and still have too much – mostly books, papers and gifts with sentimental memories. My daughter’s and grandchildren’s birthdays and holidays give me a change to pass some of the old gifts on as family heirlooms. Eventually, they’ll inherit all of the stuff anyway. Perhaps they’ll be wiser than me and downsize earlier in life…


  3. Carol, I would love to hear of those shawl stories…Scrolling through your post before I read it, I was immediately struck by the shawl on the chair, the beautiful vibrant colours. I’m so glad that it’s got your back, bringing warmth and comfort to you on so many levels. Draw strength from your beloved shawl, its stories as you are beavering away in peace in your writing room and best of luck with the editing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments and blessings, Annika. The memory of the shawl’s stories and the editing poem hanging on the wall next to my desk help me keep going with the arduous editing journey.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Carol, you are WORKING…I know this work and the hours it takes, consumes. I am finishing up a book for Barbara Robidoux now – it’s a joy to work in the zone. (I don’t work with the energy isn’t good)

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your lovely comments, Karen. I send my best wishes to you as you breathe love and life into your newest book. I’ve posted an editing prayer next to my desk to help be stay balanced. “… Let the words that flow through me be compassionate, constructive, healing and true.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi, Carol, it is always such a pleasure to try to catch up with your postings! For us (Amuricans) who have led rather uneventful, though sometimes quite frugal, lives, the history of your family will be almost foreign, but old pappy and I are sure hoping we can live long enough for you to finish your book, so we can read it! Buster and old pap.

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