Noses on Legs and Mean Editors

I felt livelier today. Not well enough to go exploring, but I did poke my head out to stay in the habit. I found a very small fire extinguisher and the electrical room, neither of which merited a photo.

I ate today, soup and salad, a few bites of each.

I learned the Russian word for “editor,” which is “редактор.” It’s pronounced like redactor, but with a different inflection. I like that. It’s what editors do to my stranger flights of fancy. They redact them with prejudice, straight in the bin.

I haven’t done this in a while, so here are some recent snips, courtesy of a variety of redactors:

The man had those eyebrows, the kind that grow to nine different lengths, stubbly bits and antennae, salt and pepper, grass and sedge, ridiculous, just awful.

Reason for removal (verbatim, well-deserved): What!?

“Men like him don’t grow on trees.”

I lay back and pictured that, a tree full of men. A tree full of models, pecs and glutes on display. It’d be a shame for the ones at the top, getting bruised coming down.

Reason for removal: Not sexy.

“Strange to find a garden here.” Ivan pushed the vines to one side. The patch was tiny, a ring of rocks round a fishpond, cropped grass all around. A daisy had taken root in one corner, like a signature.

Reason for removal: No idea. It was there, then it wasn’t. The garden remained in the book, but its discovery did not. Oh, dear. Was that a mistake?

“We used to keep ’em in jars, not forever, just till dark. The thing is with fireflies, they store it up. They won’t glow in jars, no point. But you wait, you let them go, they blaze it out all at once.”

Reason for removal: I was supposed to include a childhood memory that made a brutish character seem human. This one got knocked back because…it’s mean to put fireflies in jars. (The brief, I felt, was unclear. It said human, not considerate.)

John slammed the door. “Someone did a shit.”

Reason for removal: No four-letter words. (I was tempted to go through the manuscript and remove every four-letter word—John, door, et cetera—but there are limits.

The noses marched in pairs, nostril hairs sweeping the gravel. They snorted with each step, and some of them whistled, and they modulated their whistles into a merry tune.

Reason for removal (verbatim): …a weird dream sequence could be a scene where somebody has someone else’s face, or everyone is crossdressed. Not marching noses. (I think Gogol might disagree.)

Most of these are last year’s rejects. My current publisher has a strict work-product policy. Even snips can’t be shared—even e-mails. I write it, they see it, it’s theirs, royalty-free.

I liked my last publisher, before they folded. They didn’t mind what I did with my rejects, as long as I changed any details that might identify the property. Oh, and as long as I never said who I worked for. (They paid more as well, a flat fee and royalties. I never get royalties. That was sweet.)

I wish I could draw something to go with this, like a big marching nose.

Maybe if I draw slowly, a few lines a day….

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