This November is for Editing

img_0237Depending on who or what you follow online these days, you‘ve likely seen NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) mentioned as the month of November approached. With things having kicked off on November 1st, the progressive daily word counts are now beginning to appear in my social media feeds. To those participating this year, I wish you every success, and to those “I’m already behind” tweets – where there is a will there remains hope – a thought which worked for me a few years ago.

While not diving into the full NaNo experience myself this year, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach (though I’m not sure whether to suggest its an easier or more difficult one), and revise the 55k words I committed to pixel and paper in 2014. At the time, I wrote a couple of posts on the tools I used to get there, and a quick search of the term NaNoWriMo on this blog will pull up a few posts outlining how I managed to fall over the 50k word deadline before month’s end.

Reflections

Memories of how November went in 2014 fall somewhere on a continuum between I never want to do that again and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Where my thinking lies on that continuum varies day-to-day, however one thought always remained – I never quite finished it. Sure, the actual story or first draft is finished – it has just never been revised and edited. You know… finished.

Have I not had the time over the intervening three years to read, revise and improve on that initial effort? Absolutely. Just couldn’t do it. I even started a couple of times only to be thwarted by some innate inability to read my own work, let alone embrace the apparent enormity of the task.

So why now? A very good question, though perhaps not as good as the one which asks: what makes you think you can do it this time?. To be honest I’m not entirely sure I can, however in my own mind am a little more definitive about giving it a go this time. After all – I have a plan!

Three years on, the statute of limitation seems to have expired on those feelings of oh wow… I can’t read this, so away we go I guess. Besides, is it not the least I can do after having put my mother through proof reading and editorial duties the first time around?

The Plan

Diving into a river of bad grammar, poor punctuation, and let’s face it – a somewhat dubious plot line and story structure requires some sort of plan.

I have 55,000 words over 32 chapters, so the common sense approach would seem to be about one chapter per day. With reference to my Tools below, I plan to make a first pass through each chapter making corrections and notations by hand, subsequently transferring those to digital form.

Being relatively confident I will get through the initial markup, my fear is becoming bogged down in rewriting and larger changes. Should this be the case I think I’ll leave any major section rewrites to a later time if things head too far in that direction (says he who sets himself up for failure: hmmm…yes, that’s too time consuming – I’ll just do that bit later…).

The Tools

With reference to those previous posts about the tools used in creating the first draft, I might simply argue if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, however that would be oversimplifying things a little. The fact is I tend to proof and revise things far more efficiently and effectively in a very different format to what they were written in, and am of course far from alone in this way of thinking.

At the very least this takes the form of a text editor’s preview pane or say, Marked 2, in an entirely different theme to the editor pane itself. Better yet, with the physically printed word I am able to hold and manually scratch, scrawl, and mark up or annotate by hand. I don’t believe I am necessarily in the minority with this type of approach either, however perhaps a generation of digital only writers, editors and reviewers are now on the scene, and I would be considered a “throwback”. If not the case already, that time certainly cannot be far away.

In any event, given my reticence to get stuck into this task in the past, I’d suggest I am in need of selecting not only the best tools for the job, but those most likely to maximise my chances of success.

Pen and paper

For all of the notebook and paper reviews I’ve done extolling the virtues of my favourite types, the manuscript is printed out on standard office copy paper. Yes I know – I thank you for your kind thoughts and commiseration, however do believe I’ll cope. Strangely enough, my previously abandoned attempt at this task found the paper – while nothing to write home about – certainly usable.

I cannot recall the pen I was using, however the J. Herbin Orange Indien ink feathered just a little, and demonstrates some show through, however I’m simply taking anything I can see through the page as a sign of progress. I’m here to mark up, and can see it’s mark up I’ve done – a positive approach I’ll run with as far as it takes me.

This time around, I’ve settled on Montblanc William Shakespeare Velvet Red, ably distributed by a Pilot Custom Heritage 91 and its FM nib. The Shakespeare is my most recent ink acquisition, and seems perfect for the task in that it isn’t too bright, yet stands out from the printed black ink. I’ll leave it to your imagination whether I’m perhaps trying to channel some other form of inspiration with this choice as well…

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The pen? Well it really could have been any of a number of choices, though in the end the FM nib squeezes my corrections and notes in and around those tighter spaces, as well as minimising feathering given its relatively restrained ink flow. The maroon with silver trim simply seemed like a good fit for the ink colour – or perhaps I thought it would set a creative mood?

MultiMarkdown Composer

If I’m to make a permanent record of any of these planned improvements, a digital element to this process is rather important. The choice here was easy, despite the significance of throwing 55 thousand words in a text editor, needing robust iOS syncing (I’m using Dropbox), and trusting my hard work will be safe, saved and ready to go anywhere over the next 30 days.

You may be thinking I’ve said the choice was easy given my loyalty to Ulysses for writing over the past three years, however given the title of this section, clearly that isn’t what I mean. I began using Ulysses through the promo trial for NaNoWriMo back in 2014. Fitting then that I’ll be testing something different this time.

My reference to the choice being easy, simply relates to a recommendation from a very good online friend who has helped immeasurably in much of my Mac related development over the past couple of years. I still maintain the best thing to come out of this blogging caper are the people you become acquainted with as a result. So, when someone whose opinion you highly respect makes an app recommendation, I feel it is well worth trying out.

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MultiMarkdown Composer’s Table of Contents based on header levels

Armed with the Pro version of MultiMarkdown Composer v4, I am ready to work through and make any necessary adjustments or rewrites. As you can see, I have dropped the text into a Markdown file, and MMC4’s Table of Contents provides me with a nice sidebar view of my chapters. Although arguably possessing a few less bells and whistles than Ulysses, MMC4 provides everything I need for the task at hand. It’s a robust and powerful text editor, and if that isn’t what I need for the task at hand then I’m clearly approaching this all wrong.

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…he was actually editing his work

I’m also interested so see how the iOS Files app handles Dropbox syncing when I use Byword on my iPad to squeeze in a few updates at lunch time. A few days in I can report so far so good. It would however be remiss of me not to mention encountering more than a couple of Byword crashes when using Copied in split view on my iPad (Air 2 running iOS 11.1) putting this post together.

Signing off

Enough talking, as the time to commence reading, critiquing and rewriting has already passed. I’ve indeed made a start, however am yet to convince myself that my will is strong enough to push on and get this done in a month. I’d like to at least think I can make one complete pass through with pen in hand – even if the rewriting comes a little later.

To all of those creative and motivated souls who’ve dived headlong towards the 50k word target, I wish you well. While its fair to say I have a certain reticence towards fully editing my first draft, I’m certainly glad I managed to create it.

Anyway – it can’t be that bad. My mother wouldn’t lie would she…?

 

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Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web by those wiser than myself:

Craft
With my Rhodia Ice 80th Anniversary Notebooks on their way, a timely interview with Scott Druce, Co-founder of Notemaker, one of Australia’s premier on-line stationery stores, from which my order has been shipped:
Craft Cubed Interview – Notemaker

Baristafail
An introspective piece from Josh Russell of Brisbane Specialty Roaster Cup Coffee, now 5 years on. I can happily say I have the opportunity to enjoy superb coffee roasted by Cup on a daily basis, for which I am eternally grateful. What else am I grateful for? Sentiment such as this:

Good coffee is putting people before the product. The product is then made better because of this.

I’ve met Josh a few times, and do not know him well, though I would put money on him achieving and sustaining the three personal goals he lists at the end of the post. A stand up local guy done good:
Long Term Goals

The Weekend Edition
Whether or not the events alluded to in this article about the merger of Cup Coffee (refer Cup link in Baristafail above for more information) and Coffee Supreme in any way relate to the sentiment above is not my business. In any event, as a keen consumer of coffee in Brisbane, I look forward to any step in the evolution of the industry as a whole (if it must change so be it, though I’ve always loved the Cup branding):
Cup Coffee Roasters pairs up with Coffee Supreme

Asian Efficiency
Although I find mind mapping incredibly useful, I probably don’t use the technique as much as I should. The guys at AE have posted a great article on a specific use of the technique to condense and consolidate information:
Mind Mapping for Condensing Material

Pennaquod
Over the past 6 months I have been furiously Pinboarding pen, paper and ink reviews for the time I may need to refer back before a future purchase. Perhaps Ian Hedley has now saved me the trouble, recently launching this “penblog search engine”, which aims to avoid the many ad listings which confront any product search these days, with pens and paper no different. There are some great sites already signed up, and I’m sure many more to follow. What a fantastic idea (and already in my favourites bar of course):
Pennaquod: The pen blog searcher

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
I must admit I clicked the Twitter link to this review yesterday from Ian with a little trepidation, as I had purchased a bottle of De Atramentis Permanent Blue a few hours before seeing it. As the link was loading my thoughts were of course – oh no, what if this is really bad?. Thankfully it seems to be a decent ink, and I do like the colour. By the way, if you need a few (hundred) other opinions, type this ink into the search engine at Pennaquod and have at it:
De Atramentis Document Ink Blue ink review

Jet Pens
I’ve been working my way through a trio of Pilot G–2’s recently, seeing if I can find a sweet spot out of the 0.38mm, 0.5mm or 0.7mm. It’s looking like the 0.5mm, however the G–2 is not my first choice for a cheap everyday pen (at the time they were the only locally available brand in three sizes). One I have not tried as yet is the Zebra Sarasa, which is high on my list. No doubt I will have a quick flick through the following guide prior to any purchase:
Zebra Sarasa: A Comprehensive Guide

Pen Paper Ink Letter
I’ve often thought I must test or at least seek out some nice brown ink. Perhaps due to a subconscious desire to combine my love off coffee and pens, though more likely simply because there are some great brown inks out there. Heath from PPIL has been hard at work looking at some recently, and, as you will see in the accompanying images to each post, some inks are brown (perhaps with a hint of red), and some, well…, aren’t. Thankfully inks are not bought on name alone:
Fountain Pen Ink Review: Waterman Absolute Brown
Fountain Pen Ink Review: Noodler’s Burma Road Brown

The Typist
Reviewing my app purchases for any business related expenses at tax time just about drives me crazy, so I cannot even imagine the amount of effort that went into this post. As I read the article this made me cringe:

To my surprise, there was no easy way to export all iTunes & App Store purchases to a spreadsheet. So yes, I’ve gone through 90 e-mail receipts that contained 126 purchases, adding the above metadata to each individual purchase.

Of particular interest is the overall amount spent on Apps over a four year period, and just how many remain on the device. A fascinating article and definitely one worth reading:
Four Years in Apple’s Ecosystem: An Expenses Report

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Brooks Review
In his own typical style, Ben Brooks takes the reviewing by numbers system apart, using an article from The Verge as an example. There are many reasons reviews can be questionable, this being yet another:
Why Reviewing by Numbers is a Bullshit Practice and Needs to Stop

Pentorium
I’ve yet to try out Tomoe River paper, and what better way to do just that than with a great looking notebook. As stated in the review, this is exclusive to online store JustWrite and currently available in A5 or A6 with blank pages only (dot grid would be lovely):
Tomoe River Handcrafted Notebooks from JustWrite

Pen Paper Ink Letter
Heath from PPIL outlines a fountain pen and paper starter set with quite a few goodies for $100. I always enjoy these types of posts not only to see if there are any products out there for me to try, but also whether I would recommend the same or similar items if asked:
The PPIL Fountain Pen and Paper Starter Set

The Pen Addict
This is one from the dim, dark past, posted by Brad back in June 2012, outlining a reader submitted Hi-Tec C refill hack into a Retro 51. Why am I poking around in the archives? Well, next up in my Field Notes rotation is the Expedition Edition and as many of you know, to deal with the Yupo synthetic paper, a decent ballpoint is required. Rather than open my wallet, I opened my drawer and found a couple of unused 0.7mm Uni Jetstreams, the refills of which are now snugly hacked into my Retro 51 and Kaweco Classic Sport pens, and performing very well indeed. Now all I need is an actual expedition, upon which to take my new carry:
Hacking a Pilot Hi-Tec-C Refill into a Retro 51

The Gentleman Stationer
No doubt I will try the Kon-Peki myself at some point in my journey through Blue-Black to Blue ink spectrum, however to date have not done so. My most recent purchase being the Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite, which is on the darker end, though indeed a beautiful ink. Until then, I will happily read about others experiences, and keep asking, is that too light for me?:
Ink Review: Iroshizuku Kon-Peki

Inktronics
Of course there is no need to limit things to blue, black or somewhere in between, as I love a good red ink as much as the next penperson. From the image at the beginning of this post, it’s now clear to me that Darth’s light saber is indeed derived of Diamine Ink:
Inktronics Reviews Diamine Red Dragon Fountain Pen Ink

Modern Stationer
Why else do we read reviews, other than for thoughtful, objective views and perhaps some guidance on where to look for our next purchase. When things don’t always go to plan, with enough information (in contrast to The Brooks Review link above) we can all still decide for ourselves. Doug’s review of the Kaweco AL Sport ticks all of these boxes and more. The pen community delivers yet again:
Kaweco AL Sport Review

The Atlantic
Certainly not a short read this one. Here The Atlantic profiles Blue Bottle Coffee and its efforts in scaling production of a specialty iced coffee of sorts. Living in Australia I have obviously not tasted this product, however post this link as I find such endeavours quite interesting. Larger scale production of something like specialty coffee always carries the dangers of a proportional shift away from the original beverage as the magnitude of the scale increases. Perhaps things will be different this time:
The Future of Iced Coffee

Coffee Contrarian
A response to the above article, from Kevin Knox, who describes himself as a “semi-retired veteran of the coffee and tea trade”. The closing paragraph of which probably sums up his thoughts:

At the very least, I shouldn’t be the only one with an industry background pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes – or rather, that there’s (almost) no coffee in this “coffee.”

Probably worth reading both articles, and perhaps a few more before making up your own mind. In the end, it will no doubt be the consumer who decides. In the context of sales figures, whether it actually is “specialty coffee” or not (whilst important to some) will most likely end up irrelevant:
“The Future of Iced Coffee” leaves me cold

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesdaya weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

Study Hacks
Although specifically referring to mathematical proofs, there are enough hints here for broader applications. My favourite? Idea 1 – sometimes we just need to be specific, have clear aims, and deal with it:
How to Read Proofs Faster: A Summary of Useful Advice

1Password for iOS Tip of the Day
Along came this little gem in my Twitter feed recently – swipe right on 1Password (iOS) entries to copy the password. A cracker. It appears many others needed a little reminding about this great feature I was unaware of:
1Password Status

The Sweet Setup
As someone with less than 12 months Mac experience under my belt, tips like these come in very handy:
Quick Tip: Enable Hot Corners on OS X

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Nothing wrong with a little tech, but where are the pens and ink? Why here for starters:
Diamine Ochre ink review

Hastily Written
Lately I’ve been drawn to the red/orange/brown spectrum of ink colours, however on the opposite side of the rainbow, am also in need of a new blue. Food for thought here:
Ink Drop: July 2014

Office Supply Geek
If a little colour in a notebook is your thing, Brian takes a look at the turquoise Rhodiarama hard cover. Same Rhodia quality – just a little louder:
Rhodiarama Notebook Review

The Atlantic
Did you read my previous post on penmanship? Maybe a slightly different tangent from such an idea (which by the way wasn’t written this quickly):
How to Write 225 Words Per Minute With a Pen

Still Drinking
Of course punctuation matters, however as much as we think it does? Need I say more:

English is a mutt of a language, inheriting ludicrously contradictory spellings and grammars from other languages.

Nobody. Understands. Punctuation.

Barista Magazine Blog
I’m all for someone having a stab at the often elusive “where did this originate?” – perhaps the Dutch Traders in the South Pacific were the lucky souls that invented out of necessity. Although this low-acidity brew is not new, and something I have written about before, I’m interested to see how the trend has caught on in the modern Cafè scene. This series might be one to follow:
Completely Cold brew: Part 1 of a series

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Cramped
Do you have a particular note taking system (of the handwritten kind)? If not, a round-up of a few popular methods that may be worth a try:
Paper Based Markup Systems

Bean Brewding
Much of the opinion on specialty filter coffee brewing centres around devices such as the Hario V60, Kalita Wave, Chemex and the like. A simple old drip filter – could you? Would you? Local Brisbane guys Bean Brewding gave it a shot, and here are the results:
Can You Make Great Coffee in a Drip Filter Coffee Machine?

Macstories
Somewhat lost amidst the WWDC hype was an update to one of my most used apps, in the form of Editorial 1.1. This is a significant update to the iPad version, however also brings the app to the iPhone as well. As usual, Federico Viticci leaves nothing unturned in a review:
Editorial 1.1: Another Step Forward for iOS Automation

While you’re there, Unread (my iPhone RSS reader of choice) is now available for iPad, and you can read Federico’s impressions. For me, I will probably stick with Mr Reader at the current time, as my workflows for viewing and sharing/saving articles are pretty well sorted. I cannot speak highly enough of Unread’s minimalist interface for iPhone however:
Unread for iPad Review

The Fountain Pen Quest
Having just opened a mail order package from Pen Chalet containing a new Pelikan M205, my thoughts turned to which ink would fill it first. Coincidentally, after setting my bottle of Montblanc Midnight Blue down (a long time favourite), I checked my Twitter feed and up popped a great review of this very ink from Ray at The Fountain Pen Quest. I’d certainly agree on this point:

I can’t quite place why I like this ink so much so I’m calling it “character.”

Ink Notes: Montblanc Midnight Blue

New York Times
No surprises here. None of us really thought writing by hand was simply a form of expression (I hope!). A few words on just how important hand writing is to a developing brain:
What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades

The Well-Appointed Desk
Although a vibrant fountain pen ink looks fantastic on a blank page, over at the Desk, Ana has some downloadable PDF templates for use underneath a blank sheet of paper, providing the lines many of us could (or at least should) not do without:
Turn a Blank Notebook into a Lined Notebook

PD