On dildo beetles, tiaras, gardening, and pruning out those pesky words…

I took yesterday off.

It’s quite ridiculous to feel guilty. After all, the life of leisure is the one I’m supposed to be leading these days. Early retirement = not stressing over work or deadlines or ministers’ unreasonable expectations. Instead I’m supposed to be a lady who (occasionally) lunches. And yesterday was just such an occasion.

I met an old friend at the Queen’s Gallery (part of Buckingham Palace) for the Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden exhibition. Most of the paintings are from the Queen’s own collection. How nice must it be to swan through your rooms and be able to pick out dozens of paintings to create a specialised exhibition that filled several rooms with paintings, prints and tapestries? Such an embarras de richesses! One I could live with anyway.476107-1409132533

The art, being from one source and collected over several centuries, was variable, shall we say. Some items were lovely, the sort you could be lost in all day wondering in what Renaissance heaven ostriches went for a paddle in the moat enclosing the hedge-maze where you were hosting a picnic; some by world famous artists (Da Vinci, Breughel, for instance). Some items were disappointing. A collection of Faberge enamelled flowers looked horribly like the ones you can buy in Swarovski and most of the china was monstrous. One of the most attractive pieces was a small watercolour by Queen Alexandra, long-suffering wife of Edward VII. I’m sure she found her painting a solace, poor dear. Oh the pineapple isn’t hers. That’s by Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717) and is described as
A ripe pineapple (Ananas comosus), the caterpillar, chrysalis and butterfly of the dido longwing (Philaetria dido) and a beetle (Chilocorus cacti). I confess I first read that as the dildo longwing and embarrassed myself by snorting out a giggle. Really, in the Queen’s own house! I was shamed for my lewd sense of humour.

But the best bit, for me? A tiara, of course. Well, a diadem anyway.

When Albert and Victoria were betrothed, one of his presents to her was a brooch styled as a sprig of orange blossom, with gold leaves and a white enamelled flower. Very pretty, and perfect for a bride to be. Over the years, he added to the parure. The piece de la resistance—my, aren’t we French today?—is a diadem, with not only orange blossom flowers, but tiny green oranges to represent their (many) children. Unripe, you see, hence green. Symbolism, innit?

Anyhow, Victoria wore it for every wedding anniversary, every year of her life, even long after Albert had died. She may have been a bit of a harridan, but she loved fiercely where she loved at all.

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To my delight, they displayed the diadem with the brooches and earrings. It is really an enchanting piece, charmingly low key (very few diamonds) and with a romantic history. What more could a tiara lover want?

 

Today I’m back at work, trying to make up for yesterday’s laziness.

One of the hardest parts of writing isn’t getting the words down on paper (or screen). It’s getting the right words down. I am not the most concise writer in the universe. Each of the Shield novels clocks in between 95-100K words. And, to be honest, far more of those than I like are padding. I am working on pruning them out of the text of Makepeace (extra points if you spot the gardening joke), the third Shield novel. I’ve run the whole thing through EditMinion, and now I’m doing a search-and-consider-rewriting for all the following words:

A bit

Actually

All at once

Almost

As well

Be

Began to

Being

Currently

Even

Eventually

Ever

Get/got (esp as compound verb)

Have

Having

Here

Immediately

In order

Just

Just then

Knew

Looked

Maybe

Make/made (esp as compound verb)

Might

Much

Now

Often

Only

Perhaps

Pretty

Proceeded to

Quite

Rather

Realised

Really

Saw

Simply

So

Started to

That

There is/are/was/were

Then

Thought

Watched

Wondered

Very

 

It takes a long time to trawl through 95,000 words for all those to cut them out and rewrite the phrases. But at the end of it, hopefully the book I send the publisher next week will be one helluva lot better for it.

And have a significantly lower wordcount…

 

Time to get back to work.

Have a lovely weekend, my dears.

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4 thoughts on “On dildo beetles, tiaras, gardening, and pruning out those pesky words…

  1. *chuckles ruefully* I hear you on the word count. The Infamous Novel comes in around 170K. Needless to say, I’ve got to find a place where I can chop it in half, but so far I can’t find it. Nor can any of the friends I’ve asked to read it. Anywho, I’ve loved your writing for about fifteen years now, so please remember that, even if you have to edit, you’re still a damn fine writer!

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    • I had that problem with Gilded Scarab. I’d intended to take them to Aegypt for the denouement of the novel, but I was about 65k words in and they’d just about *met*. I had to write a completely different ending for that book and leave the trip down the Nile to book 2.

      Thank you for the kind words! You were one of the first to encourage me to go pro, you know!

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  2. It sounds like a lovely way to spend a day off–I’m glad you had a chance to enjoy that! You make me leery of trying EditMinion myself, but perhaps I should! 😉

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    • It was a lovely day out and seeing another tiara ‘in the flesh’ was thrilling. Edit Minion isn’t too bad, actually, although to use it properly means I probably take a couple of hours per chapter. What really takes the time is that ruddy list up there…

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