Tuesday, February 26, 2008

If U Cn Rd Ths, U Cn b an Edtr n Wrtr

Best Quote I Heard All Day

Editing should be, especially in the case of old writers, a counseling rather than a collaborating task. The tendency of the writer-editor to collaborate is natural, but he should say to himself, ''How can I help this writer to say it better in his own style?'' and avoid ''How can I show him how I would write it, if it were my piece?'—James Thurber

De Emendator non est Disputandum

At various times in my life, from a number of people, I’ve heard:

“You were born to be an editor.”

“You’re a born writer.”

It is true, since I am certainly ill-suited to be your server for this evening. I know how to write. It’s in my blood. And I know how to edit without trying to be the writer’s voice. Thurber’s quote really hits home, this week especially, since my irritation about being summarily edited without the courtesy of seeing the edits has been festering like a suppurating sore.

It’s often said, to paraphrase the well-known quote about teachers, “Those who can’t write, edit.” There is some truth to this, although as an editor for small specialty magazines, I had to wear many hats: editor, writer, art director, layout artist, marketing manager, even accountant (well, I had to deal with budgets). But first and foremost, I have always been a writer. That came first, at age eight, when I learned to knit and learned that I could take words that rhymed and make little poems that expressed my young thoughts and feelings.

Being a good editor means that you do not silence the writer’s voice, ever. It means that you form a partnership with the writer. It’s the difference between helping a writer to tune their voice so that it rings true to them, not to you, so that they communicate with clarity without sacrificing their tone. Nurture. Suggest. Pure and simple. It’s not just the grammar and the spelling. It’s respecting the writer’s essence. Sometimes grammar has to be tossed out the window in favor of soul.

I will not allow my voice to be muffled again. By any amateur editor. And any analogies to music are strictly intentional. Tone, voice, meter—as I was once also a musician, I can only apply musicality to my opera. OK, no more bad Latin.


I may write my next article in LOLCAT—like Carol, I’m a big fan.


It’s so much more elegant a populist language than, say, Pig Latin, or for those of my age from the NY Metro area, Me-a-surry, created by the late, great Murray the K.

GEEK WARNING: If you don’t do computers, skip this bit.

Along with being a writer, I’m a frustrated junior programmer, who can edit but not write pure code. Those of you who are geeks will know what I mean when I say that well-written code can be a beautiful thing. LOLCAT has metamorphosed into a programming language. One that enthralls me far more than Java, Perl, C#, .NET, or even SQL. Here’s a wonderful example, GIMMEH, found on the LOLCODE site:

VISIBLE "You said " N VAR N " !!"

You gotta love the start block delimiter, HAI, and the closer, KTHXBYE. And yes, people are using LOLCODE on legit platforms.

So Yeah, This is a Knitting Blog, More or Less

And so much more, no? Yes, I’ve been knitting, socks and a shawl. In fact, after playing footsie with writing a book for the past three years, I finally realized that my original book idea was indeed the most viable. No, it’s not the book I began writing two years ago and dropped because I didn’t want to produce yet another “My Speshul Knitting Encyclopedia According to Me” kind of tome. This time, it’s happening. And I will publish it myself because I’m not going to have no steenkin’ publisher fuck it up.

The book that has been in my head for almost four years now is pretty much roughed out. Are ya ready?

Rock Sox.

That’s right, socks inspired by rock ‘n’ roll. Not just the designs, but background on the songs and the artists, too, along with my twisted prose. I’ve begun the first design already, Chantilly Lace, and the prototype is looking pretty good. Because I’ll own the material, I’ll print pictures as I go along, and I would expect my Tontant Weaders to give their unadulterated opinions. That's presuming that you skanks have learned something from reading me.

It seemed to me that I have managed to knit quite a few pairs of socks recently. If that’s what I can manage, why not turn it into a fun book to design and write. Here are my raw notes:


· Chantilly Lace (Big Bopper)—lace pattern—black lace with pink eyelet ruffle

· Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini (Brian Hylan)—Fair Isle dots on yellow

· Jailhouse Rock (Elvis)—mosaic stripes?


· Eleanor Rigby (Beatles)—mauve plain sock with a lace cuff?

· Get Off of My Cloud (Stones)

· Purple Haze (Hendrix)—Kidsilk Haze with fine cotton binder?


· Tangled Up in Blue (Dylan)

· Pinball Wizard (The Who)—Large silver beads annoyingly placed

· Stairway to Heaven (Led Zep)


· Born in the USA (Springsteen)—something with red/white/blue, tri-colored cables?

· Cheap Sunglasses (ZZ Top)—intarsia sunglasses

· Burning Down the House (Talking Heads) flame pattern?


· Tears In Heaven (Eric Clapton)

· Heart-shaped Box (Nirvana)

· Wilbury Twist (The Traveling Wilburys)—rocking cable?

The New Millenium

· Good Charlotte

· Green Day

· Blink 182

As you can see, this is not yet fully formed. It's mostly plug and play, if you get my drift. I’ll be checking with Liz as to what songs will be apropos from the New Millenium artists. I fully admit, I know little about these bands. And I’ll listen to her advice.

OK, gang, this has been more than I’ve written in a long time. Thanks for missing me. I missed you, too. The rare and handy hiatus is over. I'm back. Back in the New York groove. Or whatever.


Thursday, February 21, 2008

Helloooo? Anybody Home?

Best Quote I Heard All Day

I think writer's block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out.—Roy Blount, Jr.I

Sure, something will come out. Like shit? Possibly. I've been sitting on the potty for too long now, and not much has come out.

I know. It’s been five weeks or so since last I posted. Primarily because I hit the writer’s wall, that dreaded failure of flowing words. I’m fine, in relatively good health, despite a recent bout of the flu.

It’s not just a blockage, though. It’s the six-hour daily commute, with my scant free time devoted to some mindless knitting. The state of total exhaustion as I drag my ass into my apartment—I knew it would be this way and I also knew that something in my life would suffer. It was the writing. Night after night I would think about writing but ended up with brain freeze. I didn’t even have the wherewithal to read my friends’ blogs, either.

At one point last week, I seriously thought about just dumping the blog. After all, I thought, after almost six years, what do I have left to say? Platitudes not being my strong suit, it’s often difficult to come up with interesting material. But then my Taurean stubborn streak kicked in. Fuck it, I’m not going gently into that good night.

So how to juggle? I don’t know, yet. It’s going to have to be a squeeze play on my part. But I feel rejuvenated these past few days, so I’ll let ‘er rip and see what happens. As it is, I’m partially writing this at work, something I would rather not do. However, having just gotten out a chunk of documentation, I reckon I can spend a few minutes on my own shit. And the blog is much too important to me to let it sink into the Blog Bog.

Knitting America and Cables. Oh My.

So during my hiatus, I gave myself two little presents. The first one, Knitting America, by Susan M. Strawn, is simply wonderful. I’ve been picking away at it, mostly looking at the pictures, which are just superb. The prose strikes me as a bit heavy-handed, although truthfully, I haven’t read enough of the book’s text to cement this opinion. But if you enjoyed No Idle Hands and are a Richard Rutt devotee, I highly recommend you plunk down the money for this book. To me, knitting history is fascinating, as is all history. Not everyone’s cup of tea perhaps, but a valuable book in the scope of its research.

My other gift to myself was Janet Szabo’s Cable Book, Vol. 1. Buy it. Even though many of the cables are familiar, Janet gives you options and food for thought on how to vary them. And…there is the Woven Cable, a brilliant idea that I wish I had thought up.

Wat U Bin Nidding Mar?

Well, another pair of Jarbo Raggi socks for Neal, who had better stick ‘em on his feet so I can photograph them. (Dude, you’ve gotten four pairs of socks outta me this winter. So pose.) And a pair for me. These socks work up so damned fast, I don’t even count them as projects. Actually, I never really count socks as much of anything.

I did discover the new Noro Kureyon sock yarn, which is just outstanding. It’s the Kureyon feel and look, in a standard sock yarn blend of 70% wool/30% nylon. I have the one sock done, the second on the needles.

And the other true project is Interweave Knits’ freebie, the Icelandic Lace shawl. With a pile of Morehouse laceweight hanging around, I decided that this shawl would do justice to the yarn’s space dye. Rather than do the suggested colors, I’m just letting the Morehouse do its thing. With the reverse stockinette ridges, I think the sculptured look works well with the yarn. Having seen Sheila’s version done in Anne, down at my not-so-local yarn shop, Stix-n-Stitches, I was inspired by that, although I couldn’t seem to locate my Anne in the stash. No matter.

Now, about all that unfinished shit I have lying around, like the Lavold pullover, Jenn’s Campanula, and the sizing of the Gansey socks. I dunno, maybe in a month or two. Maybe.

Latest IK

Yeah, well, there’s the Ravelry article by yours truly. Ma bought this issue and promptly told me that my article meant nothing to her. This is a woman who leaves the internet to her children. And there were a couple of nice garments. The photography seems better, although I’m beginning to change my mind about the layout. Initially, it didn’t bother me. This issue, it did, for some reason. I dunno. It’s lost its handmade ambience, I think. It’s not quite on the level of Vague Knitting—I don’t know what level it’s seeking.

Political Junkie

As Joe Klein so eloquently wrote in last week’s essay in Time magazine, there is no 12-step program for political junkies. I am one, Neal is one, MSNBC is often the channel of choice, although we do watch Faux News for a nanosecond sometimes, just to vomit slightly. (Thanks, Olbermann. For that, and for Ann “Coultergeist”.) I can’t get enough of this political season.

I’m not pleased with the choices at this point.

If Hillary gets in or McCain gets in, I fear it will be Business As Usual in DC. Something needs to change drastically, and I don’t know yet if Obama is the one to institute change, either.

Frankly, Congress is a disgrace. We need new blood there. Blood that will actually do something. I say, throw out the non-performers. And there’s plenty of them, both Democrats and Republicans. A true do-nothing, know-nothing group.

Whether you agree with me or not, here’s the one thing we should all agree on:


That’s Neal’s sig and we should all adopt it. Because voting is a rare and handy privilege and right.

Watch this space. I got my voice back. Hrmph. Choke. Gag.