I’m trying to get the History of the Medieval World into final shape by the end of February; my editor at Norton has been sending MS back to me in chunks with his notes, and I’m going through, page by page, making changes and corrections, drawing maps where they’re still needed, and making up a timeline for each chapter.

So in Chapter 21, I wrote of the monk Benedict that, in Monte Cassino, he “developed the rules by which his community would live: the Rule of St. Benedict. The Rule was the lex of a kingdom removed from the political struggles, a conscious attempt to lassoo Christian practice and haul it back to the realm where the Indian and Chinese monks dwelt.” My editor changed that to “A conscious attempt to bring Christian practice back to the realm.”

The accompanying note: “No, let’s not lassoo anything.”

I keep forgetting he’s from Connecticut.

ADDENDUM: Just reached the chapter on the Arab kingdom of Himyar, in which I wrote a really awful sentence.

My sentence: “It wasn’t the only massacre of his reign, but it became the domino that knocked his carefully built plans for preserving his kingdom down into a disastrous heap.”

Editorial remark: “Sentence is a disastrous heap. Please untangle.”

I just did. Well…a Gordian-knot type of untangling. I axed it.

Showing 10 comments
  • Sligo

    With the phrase “conscious attempt” there, “lassoo” is a bit anachronistic, isn’t it? Makes me think of the wrong kind of Indian. Cute.

  • Ev.

    lol. Your editor sounds like he has a sense of humor lol. I kinda like the domino analogy thing. And you can’t give up the lassoo lol
    Don’t take this the wrong way, but I really like your writing because it doesn’t sound pretentious/snobby. Its not that you ‘dumb things down’, because you certainly don’t, but, in my opinion, you make difficult concepts/subjects more accessible for people that don’t necessarily have a background in that field.
    Don’t give up any of your personal style for the sake of ‘academic correctness’.

  • k-sue

    I love reading the “before” lines about lassos and dominoes, but agree with the editor. I have just been reading some poorly edited articles and appreciate the difference.

    Thank you for letting us in on the creative and editorial process.

  • Susan in TX

    You can’t actually “lassoo” anything (although that it is an alternative pronunciation) — not trying to be a smart aleck, but it actually only has one “o” at the end — lasso. Not that your CT editor would have known that. I vote with Ev and say “put it back.” 🙂

  • Laura

    I really like lassoo. How often do you get to use that word? And I love that it is spelled with a double s and a double o. But alas, we must be willing to “murder our darlings.”

  • Lori

    You make me smile every time I read your blog.

  • Terry

    I agree with K-sue above. Letting us eavesdrop on the creative process is interesting and enjoyable. Glad for the update on the progress of volume 2 as well. can’t wait to add it to my library. Volume 1 was an engaging read.

  • Christina

    Succinct comment on his part, no? Pretty funny.
    You continue to amaze!

  • Carolyn

    Hangin’ with Terry up there; my son uses Vol. 1 for 9th grade. We neeeeeed Vol. 2 for 10th. Can’t wait to hand you the money for it! Volume 3 for August, 2010, please? lol

  • Sebastian (a lady)

    I’m so glad that your editor is this helpful. I finished a fiction novel a couple weeks ago and kept thinking that it would have benefited from an editor being a little more stiff handed with it.
    I enjoyed reading the Ancient World volume and am looking forward to the next one (this time I’ll try not to buy it for myself right before my birthday).

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