Proofreading Slang: Writing Conundrum No. 64

Here’s a writing style conundrum for you all to mull over: When you’re writing in multiple perspectives throughout a story, changing points of view from chapter to chapter (and sometimes within a chapter), how much should that affect your style / adherence to the conventions of language?

My main issue right now (making progress in proofreading Crystal and Wand) is that among the slang terms and swear words that my characters use is “God / god”, and the capitalization changes according to the perspective of the narrative. At least, that’s what I think I did. I’m going to have to check back through ALL of the dialogue and inner thought pieces to see if I’m right or if I just wasn’t paying attention at the time of the writing. But I know that some characters are more likely to use the proper name construction, and others are prone to the regular noun.

Next time, I’ll make note of the use of language with each character in the prep sheets. Take more time to consider the idiosyncrasies of each character’s speech and world view. For now, it’s just one more thing I have to take a few hours to comb through, just to make sure everything is consistent.

and into recovery …please, no more colds for a while, Universe

Been watching Fringe on Netflix while I’ve been sick (feeling better now, though still not 100%). Another of those awesome sci-fi shows that I failed to get into while it was fresh, but at least now I get to enjoy it without commercials or cliffhangers!

Kind of makes me want to search out old episodes of Sliders, although that one never felt quite resolved. 

I often wonder what my alternate self/selves are doing or have done. That tends to connect with feelings of low self esteem and regret, though, so I have to be careful. 

Oh, the roads not taken… 

I will be out of bed tomorrow (my mum’s birthday). Hopefully this despondent attitude will go away after a change of scene.

Attack of the Pollen (unless it’s just another cold). So here’s a bit of a ghost story…

Pounding, twinging, aching sinuses. I’d be 100% certain it’s allergies except my stomach is off too, although that could also be a result of having had that third coffee / second café mocha this afternoon.

I stood in a hot shower for a bit, hoping the steam and my nasal saline would help. Noticed that my shower drain is clogged, probably from rinsing out the cricket container. The drain is full of dead crickets. 

Made me think of a haunted house that I’ve heard students talk about, over on Poplar St. It sits on top of a boulder, an outcropping of Canadian Shield that bulges up and slightly over the road. A few straggly trees have grown up stubbornly between the house and the road, clinging to cracks and fissures with snarling roots.

Teens have broken into the house over the years since it was abandoned. The most popular story they tell is of the dolls: a circle of old, broken dolls positioned on the wooden floor in what used to be the living room. They say that if you leave the room to check out the rest of the empty house, when you go back in to see the creepy dolls again, they’ve moved.

Not sure how I linked dead crickets in my drain with possessed dolls in a haunted house, but there it is. The suggestion of a story, a germ of an idea. Imagine a family buying the structure because it’s all they can afford, planning to fix it up, but every time they move the dolls or throw them away, they come back… Peering out with their dead glass eyes from the bushes by the garbage bins… Lying in a semi-circle around the back door… Every day, pushing a little closer and a little closer, trying to get back to their domain…

And then one day, the mother is consumed with a need to know the truth. She goes to pick up the plastic baby doll, creased with dirt in its joints and dimples, but as soon as her fingers close around its fake pudgy belly, a hoard of insects pours out of the crack under its smiling mouth: brown crickets, black spiders, white millipedes, red ants…

Not sure how the story might end. It’s a mystery.

Counting down to exams . . .

The local trees are finally putting out leaves and blossoms. Took them long enough! I went to pick up dinner tonight, and caught the scent of fresh nectar or whatever it is, and at first I thought a woman wearing heavy perfume had walked by, it was that strong. Lovely.

Also explains my prickling nose and itchy eyes.

I’ve got a countdown on my class whiteboard, and the final assignments are being typed up. 14 classes remain until exams. I suspect, though, that I’ll start to feel panicky on Monday when I realize it’s June 1 and there’s still so much to do . . .

Grade 9 — we’ll start their essay on Monday, comparing three texts: the class novel, Cue for Treason, the students’ individual novel selections, and our play study, The Tempest. The students also need to clean up / edit their blog posts for the course culminating activity, and anyone exempt from writing the final exam has to decide whether to challenge it anyway.

Grade 11 — we’ll do business letters on Monday and Tuesday, maybe Wednesday. Then, we have to do basic report-writing, on a topic relating to our class novel Yes Man as well as the independent novel studies and other texts we looked at together. Similar to the Grade 9 essay, but structured differently. Plus they also have to clean up their blog posts and receive their exam review.

Writer’s Craft — they’re currently developing book trailers while I compile (and continue editing) their novel excerpts into the class anthology. Then, starting Monday, we’ll do submission letters to publishers for practice, and then they’ll be finalizing their blogs, cleaning them up, and preparing for their exit interviews. Thank heavens that course doesn’t have a final exam!

I’m not ahead or on top of my marking, so I’ve got to address that this week, too. I guess, over gardening and other stuff, that needs to be priority. I should stay at the school late at night to focus on everything and get it done. So many problems with that, though . . .

We’re all tired at this point. Tired of the routine, and the regimented days, and the demands of the system. This is another one of those times when I kind of wish I could fast-forward or experience the next month as a montage with a kick-ass soundtrack. But like Adam Sandler in Click, I’d lose out on the depth of the experience. It’s not just the marking that’s coming — it’s my son’s next karate grading, the start of soccer season, play rehearsals for Shakespeare in the Park, and getting ready for Jack’s grade 8 graduation. I want to put my daughter in some summer activities, too, although we’re too late to register for a few of them. Why is it always such a struggle to find balance?

Somebody take me away . . . I need a holiday.

I wish I could sequester myself away from everything for two weeks. Imagine how much I could get done without any of the regular distractions!

I took a personal day today (booked it off last week), in part to attend a meeting about my daughter’s psychometric assessment and in part because I needed the boost. I’ve been hitting another wall, which is typical for this time of year, and if I don’t use the personal days, I lose them anyway. But I had hoped to use my day to accomplish some things while the kids weren’t at home, and guess what? I slept instead. Went to the metting, came home, conked out until lunchtime. Ate lunch and then napped again. As a consequence, I now have a bit more energy and patience than I might normally have at this time of night, which is good for getting things done.

But that would have to include not keeping up with two separate conversations at once.

I might be able to do some cleaning (other than the lizard’s tank). I could see doing that. However, it gets incredibly frustrating trying to clean while carrying on two separate conversations. Better to wait until the kids are in bed.

I just worry about the vicious cycle starting again: staying up too late in an effort to get things done, tackling overdue tasks, and then being dependent on coffee throughout the next day, crashing after work, only to scrampble to have patience and energy after the nap. This seems to be the story of my life.

School things to do:

  • marking
  • lesson planning
  • exam development (although that might mean just tweaking last year’s, or last semester’s)
  • writer’s craft anthology is ready to compile

Home things to do:

  • finish reading / checking the proof of Crystal and Wand, which should have been done two weeks ago (sincerest apologies to my publisher)
  • organize / sort stuff to be put away in the living room
  • sweeping and washing floors (or enabling kids to do that, once the floors are fully accessible)
  • garden planning (and I have to pick up top soil and compost, young plants, and do the weeding)
  • memorizing lines for The Comedy of Errors
  • planning a (potential) book release party
  • supervise sorting and folding of laundry . . . and the putting away of the laundry
  • supervise cleaning of the bathrooms
  • repair the torn cushion of our couch (thanks, Skittles!)
  • help Bridget to finish sewing her skirt and her doll clothes
  • sort and purge files
  • remove the thick layer of dust that is on everything that doesn’t get used frequently
  • budgeting and paying bills (SOOO close to having another loan paid off!)

The trouble with these lists is that a) they’re fairly perpetual, and b) even when I make a list of things to do, all it results in is pissing me off because I can’t get all the things done. I’ve been trying to focus on the priority issues, but that changes day to day. I try to focus on getting one thing done, and that helps. But then I feel pathetic for not being able to do more.

Imagine if we had a second Spring Break in May. That would mean having exams a week later, OR starting school a week earlier, at the end of August. I could really do with that change in schedule. I could do with a lot of things, though. Like a professional organizer. More storage. A system of labeled bins and drawers and shelves for all the stuff that gets left out all over the place. A place to exercise, so I can be physically healthier, too, without taking too much time away from the other stuff. I need a plan so I don’t feel overwhelmed anymore.

I am going to make a cup of tea and then try to tackle something else in the living room. Hubby’s out for the evening at a meeting, so this might be a good time to clean a bit. Clean, or proofread. A bit of both?

Update: I have made progress on my proofreading! And I feel like I’ve got some momentum, now. I’m at the 34th page of 275 (pg 28 of the story), but I’m going to make myself stop for the night to make sure I’ve got enough energy for classes, etc. But progress is good!

Me vs the Blackfly

Blackfly season has officially arrived. I’m going to look into some homemade insect repellant instructions, although to be perfectly honest, it’s not likely that I’ll actually make any of them. Too many other things on the go. But I need something — got a few bites during lawnmowing on Sunday, and Bridget has a swollen ear from playing outside and being bitten. Rotten little buggers . . . When they’re not actually feasting on flesh, they’re swarming and getting into ears and eyes and noses . . . I think I even swallowed one while I was pushing the mower, although it might have only been a bit of flying grass. Still — ick!


 The long, cool spring has likely set us up for a bumper season of flying annoyances. It helps me to keep in mind the relative weaknesses of these tiny torturers:

  • They don’t bite indoors, so even if one or two make their way in on clothing or animal fur, they’re not to be concerned about.
  • They can be defeated by a heat wave of several days at the end of May and into July.
  • They don’t bite (a lot) in bright sun, preferring to party in shady areas. They don’t much like nighttime, either.
  • They don’t like light-coloured clothing.

Unfortunately, the microscopic Achilles’ heel of the blackfly means compromising enjoyment of summertime, even the safety of it. Who wants to spend every day indoors when the sun is shining? And we know that it’s better to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun, so stick to the shade, but that gets frustrating when lurking in the shade are hundreds or thousands of voracious little pregnant female bugs waiting for a mouthful of blood to nourish the next generation.

Huh. That sounds awfully familiar . . .

Nope. Blackflies don’t bite indoors, remember? And while a space suit might help to prevent the damned biting, it’s not the most comfortable way to spend a summer.


It seems to me that the best thing to do is to wear the long-sleeved white clothing, sealing bare flesh away from the bugs as well as harmful UV rays. But doing that means missing out on the lovely pleasure of feeling the sun after a long winter, and cuts on the vitamin D. Everything in moderation, I suppose. I just don’t relish getting sweaty under long sleeves and pant legs with tight elastics, even if they’re light fabrics. The other option is slathering the exposed skin with stinky lotions, chemical or natural.

IMG_1479Here’s the thing, though: I’m the kind of person that blackflies find deeelicious. I am a moveable feast. In the past, I ‘ve resorted to swathing a straw hat with a length white tulle, and then draping that around my face and neck, in an effort to protect myself — the hat being more aesthetically pleasing than your typical camping hat. Because I honestly get made fun of when I wear a regular camping-style net hat outside for walks or garden work, and I’m sick of that. I do try to suck it up and just go along, but quite frankly, I’d rather go without the bites and the swelling and the itching.

IMG_1480 Such a lot of bother to be able to spend some time outside. At least the good news is that a rise in blackflies means we have lots of clean water around. Yaaaaay . . .

We have to choose our poison, I guess. The weapon of choice. I have lawn maintenance and a garden to tend, once I actually get my veggies and herbs in the ground (hoping I haven’t missed out on the best selection at my favourite gardening and landscaping growers), so I’m going to have to suck it up, especially when the next wave starts up.

That’s right. The blackflies may be in full swing, but the mosquitoes have barely begun to swarm.

Welcome to summer! Having written this, I think I might just go back to my Victorian-style, romantic straw hat-and-tulle, look. Might as well go back to my own sense of style — if I’m going to be bug-proof, I shall do it with flair. And I’ll have to invest in the clothing — maybe some romantic long swingy harem pants or maxi skirts with kneesocks to change things up. And the good news is that I’ll definitely reduce the risk of getting sunburns (and the potential risk of developing skin cancer later on) with all of this gear . . .