I overnighted the workshop piece, the short story “erosion,” last Thursday morning with the promise of a 3 PM delivery on Friday. That’s what I paid for. So why didn’t it get one state over until Tuesday? Five frickin’ days for overnight delivery? I could have walked there in less time!
But the manuscript doesn’t look right. According to the lovely ladies in the program office it doesn’t look like it’s double-spaced. There are 26 lines per page instead of the average 22 that most manuscripts come in at. It either needs to be edited or submitted to workshop missing its ending.
Can I blame Microsoft for a moment? Their 12 point fonts actually vary quite a bit from one another. Some seem to be measured across while others are measured vertically. And can I get technical? Their rendering of some fonts includes some extra play with the x-height and leading that wouldn’t pass muster in a type foundry. As a consequence not all double-spaced lines are created equal among fonts.
It shouldn’t matter to me, I dumped Microsoft long before I got the Mac. I’m a fan of open source and find my quality of life is quite high without being slave to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Except that the rest of the professional world can’t seem to handle non-conformity. My 20 manuscript pages of NeoOffice, when opened as a Word doc, suddenly balloons to 22 pages. Actually, once I corrected the margins for the conversion I ended up with nearly 25 pages. (If I’d gone Courier instead of Times Roman it would have come in at 28 pages!)
That’s nearly five pages out of the manuscript I had to cut. That’s after the previous edits my advisor suggested.
This is beyond tweaking. I know it’s not a perfect manuscript, and once it goes through the workshop it might get completely overhauled, but what I originally sent had already been whittled down. I wasn’t condensing sentences, I was completely eliminating story details, bits that added humor or background. I fully expect some of these areas to show up as “I think you could insert something here” comments in July.
As I said when I submitted it last, running that razor’s edge between cutting and gutting.
So I downed the sweet tea, powered up, and went ruthless. I had to find those extra bits, average one sentence a page, hack out anything that didn’t speak directly to the story. Bit by bit, nearly 1000 words vanished into the electronic ether. In fighting trim, loose around the margins, it’s still 20 pages on my end but with enough wiggle room to conform to the damn Microsoft Word box comfortably.
I hope. So far I haven’t heard that it’s still too long.