Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Tuesday, 13 November 2001

I'm very nearly done with "An Education of Scars." I ended up taking out one chunk of the text I'd written over the weekend. I also deleted one whole scene, putting the important stuff from that scene into the previous one. Those changes bring the length to an even 6000 words. That's just about the right length.

The key thing it needs now is for me to spell out, just a little more clearly, what the hero thinks has happened. I thought his actions made it clear, but enough of the critique group had problems that I must be mistaken. Several people got just what I was going for, though, so I don't think I need much.

The other thing it needs, so everyone said, is more expression of just what the hero is feeling. Again, I tried to make that clear by his actions, but a lot of people missed it. I'll go through, scene by scene, and try to make the linkages between the hero's actions and the feelings that produce those actions a little more explicit. I guess. In my heart I'm still resisting.

I had all evening to write. Jackie went to a meeting of the Spinners and Weavers Guild. She has something new to tell them about, a book charkha, a spinning wheel for spinning cotton. The book charkha was invented in response to a challenge from Ghandi to come up with a spinning wheel cheap enough and small enough that everyone in India could have one, to break the British monopoly on cotton. Jackie bought hers with her profits from selling her handspun wool yarn at the show and sale last week.

The charkha has a long, needle-sharp spindle which completely clarifies the (heretofore puzzling) "Sleeping Beauty" reference to pricking a finger on a spindle. You could kill somebody with one of those.

In day-job news we learned recently that upper management is rolling out a new plan for rating employees. Managers will now be required to rate employees such that specific percentages will be shown as being above average, average, or below average. Having the percentages meet the targets is required. There is, however, no requirement that the ratings to reflect the employee's performance.

Anyone designing a "performance appraisal" system really needs to read Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn. The book systematically destroys the "behaviorist" models for motivating people, and makes it clear (with experimental data) just how destructive this sort of thing is.

Jackie and I lifted weights again. Too early to say we're back in the routine, but it's the only way to get started.


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