Okay, most people will probably think that somehow the “hangover” from the exhaustion brought on by the insanity which is the Collie Nationals and working on edits for The Devil’s Own Desperado which came while I was in Philadelphia have nothing to do with one another. Let me change your mind.
For one week, my life is defined by a grooming area and show ring. I get to the show site as soon as the doors open and often don’t leave until they’re turning out the lights and pushing us out the door. I’m grooming dogs, showing dogs–and in the case of this year’s National, having a meltdown outside of the ring with every cut in the specials’ ring that Snape was making. I pour myself into these dogs. I spend hours a day with them, brushing them, bathing them, caring for them. To quote Roger Carras, the esteemed announcer at Westminister Kennel Club for years, “Dogs are not my whole life, but they make my life whole.” I have one client dog who carries so much coat, if he is not given a weekly bath and blown dry, his coat is so dense and so heavy, its own weight will cause his undercoat to mat down. Right now, my smooths are losing every stitch of undercoat they own, so twice weekly baths are in order to bring them back into show coat. Showing dogs and having them in prime condition is a serious commitment. It is hard work, but the rewards are priceless. Being told how wonderful my dogs look in the ring vindicates what I do. Handing over a new champion to a deliriously happy owner is often the highlight of my show season. Being able to show that new champion to an award of merit at the Nationals is incredibly gratifying. Leaving an owner speechless with disbelief on the amazing condition of her dog does help to stroke my ego.
|GCh. Gwyn Marc’s Against the Wind|
However, the whole time I was in Philly, I knew when I got home, there would be one e-mail waiting for me from my editor at The Wild Rose Press which would have an attachment with editing suggestions for The Devil’s Own Desperado. I opened up that e-mail when I got home, downloaded the attachment, and started crying. I felt my editor had bled red all over the pages. I immediately closed the attachment, saved it to my jump drive, and said, “I can’t do this.”
I went to bed, and I cried myself to sleep. I couldn’t help but wonder how in heaven’s name my manuscript was contracted for publication if the thing needed that much editing. There had to be some mistake–that following on the heels of that e-mail with its attachment would come a subsequent e-mail telling me that the publishing house had changed their minds and they really weren’t going to publish it.
After a good night’s sleep, I reopened that attachment. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Writing is just as much hard work and takes as much commitment as does this insane hobby I have of showing dogs. I’m not afraid of hard work. So, I took a deep breath and reread the e-mail and then began to read the editorial comments. Frankly, the editing this manuscript needs is a lot of surface work, with some in-depth plot holes to repair. But, one comment made me stop reading, made me sit back in my chair, and grin from ear to ear. That comment was “Colt is great! Readers are going to love him :).”
Colt is great…readers are going to love him.
I’ve been told over and over to write what I love, and that I have to love my characters or else my readers won’t connect with those characters. I admit, I love both Amelia and Colt. Amelia has always been this very quiet, very composed young woman who is so much stronger and resilient than her appearance would allude to. She is the embodiment of the proverb about still waters running deep. Colt is a character near and dear to my heart. I loved him so much, I named one of my smooth collies for him. Colt (the collie) was a lovely tri smooth boy with gorgeous detail of head. Colt was registered with the American Kennel Club as Wych’s Rolling Thunder (the original, working title of The Devil’s Own Desperado). He finished his championship with points awarded to him by both all-breed judges and specialty judges, something I strive for in my breeding program–to have dogs who have a pretty enough head to win at specialty shows and yet still have the body and movement to be awarded wins from judges where movement is more valued than head detail. Colt (the character) has a very gruff, almost cold exterior–but inside he’s a blasted toasted marshmallow. His ability to “love ’em and leave ’em” ends abruptly when he meets Amelia, because with Amelia, he’s found what he’s longed for. She offers him a chance to put his past as a gun-fighter behind him, to settle down, and live his life without the specter of his past rising up to destroy him.
So, as soon as this blog is posted, I’m back to the editing process. Fortunately, the collies don’t need a bath for a few days. So, Colt and Amelia can take precedent. Snape, Tucker, Vander, Diva and the rest will have to wait a few days…