Sep 23


Do you ever feel overwhelmed when you’ve hit Wednesday, and you seem to have accomplished nothing? Zilch? What the hell happened to Monday and Tuesday? You were sure you’d pack those two days with everything needed to be done, only to find in the first three days of the week are a bust.

It happened this past week. Monday seemed so full of promise. By Wednesday I couldn’t recall doing anything worthwhile. Busy, yes. But busy at what?

This changed Thursday morning when I woke up to find an email with a manuscript that needed proofreading. Here, I told myself, was something that I could get my teeth into.

It had arrived in a form that pretty much looks like a print galley; how the book would look, with a title page and all the rest that comes with it.

An editor had gone through it and, what any writer hoped for, corrected everything he/she missed. All the mistakes: Punctuation, lousy spelling, apart thrashing away to make it read better. That’s what editors do.

What surprised me was the red broken line down the left margin. It didn’t look familiar. I reached the publisher who told me not to worry, it was the new way of handling such matters.

Rather than try explaining it to me himself, he text (texted?) the editor who did the initial work on the manuscript, leaving it to her to explain what was up. Here’s what she sent to him.

I read over Clarke Wallace’s concerns, and I understand what he is confused about. The track changes application on Microsoft Word tracks every little change that I do to the piece – formatting, word change punctuation etc.

Hmm. I read on.

She explained that whenever she deletes a word or punctuation mark, it often deletes the space with it, which can leave behind an empty red line tracker. “This can make it seem,” she wrote, “like I changed something that wasn’t even there.” She must have taken a breath here, before continuing:

The only other thing I can think of in terms of the ‘vertical lines’, are the lines on the left side of the pages which indicate that something – anything – has been changed, even if it’s formatting or simple adjusting that looks as if nothing has been shifted.

Author’s comment: What happened, some years ago, when an author who would give it ‘the good old look it over’, make thoughtful changes, send it back? This editor knows what she’s talking about; I wish I did. Don’t get me wrong, editors are an indispensable lot, an unselfish group that when they take on such a project, they put their hearts in it.

Posted on September 23rd, 2018 by Clarke
Sep 16


Not getting rid of stuff is the story of my life. It builds up. In my office, out in the shed, downstairs in the house. It should have gone years ago. Maybe even decades. And finally, we did something about it.

The first was the large wall to wall orange carpet – and underpadding – that’s been in what is really the main living room. Forty years old, and then some. It’s tried to keep up with the times, wrinkled as it is in some places, but I think it is tired of hanging around anyway.

“My God, have you still got that carpet?” exclaimed a visitor I hadn’t seen for some time. “Hasn’t anyone put you straight that it stinks of old age, dog pee and poop, spilled wine and booze over the years. Surely Rosanne has been murmuring that it’s gotta go.”

She finally put her foot – both feet – down last Friday, telling me a handyman with good credentials was coming Tuesday to rip it out. He will put that type of flooring where the pieces make a tight seal. Laminate? That’s the name I’m looking for.

We needed only to remove everything on the floor or in cabinets. We had cases, those old types with the rounded tops, full of  my late father’s letters and sermons from long ago. One contained stuff all wrapped in paper and tied neatly with string.

I opened them first, unwrapping each piece to find uniforms from the GGHGs, the Governor General Horse Guards, clothing that I’m sure went back to the First World War. He was in both, getting shot at Vimy Ridge The trunk contained his spats, riding britches, spurs. Etc.

The heavy great coat was, I’m sure, was from the second world war where he was a chaplin. Being a clergyman/major with, the Canadian Second Division.

The trunk also came with an otter cap in perfect condition, along with a beret, among other things.

All this, to say nothing of cupboard full of glasses and plates, a full set of Wedgewood china, passed along to me when my mother died, because no one else wanted it.

Author’s Comment: This should read Author’s dilemma, having to chose what to keep, what to pass along to anyone who might be interested, and unhappily, what to discard.

The floor is done, giving new breath to the original greyish barnwood walls; the large brick fireplace fashioned after what you would have found in large kitchens of a bygone era. Finishing up will surely take us into the next century.

Posted on September 16th, 2018 by Clarke