I’ve been getting my fish-facts straight as they pertain to my children’s (middle-grade) novel. Editing for the 50th time (x 50 to the power of WTF) the fish-infused chapters and finding, to my horror, even now, facts I failed to check previously—tucked into my favorite editing place, my bed, while T naps or helps his Dadda wash dishes or is down for the night—editing, editing, gasping when finding an error (fishy, grammatical, or plot-wise)—editing, fingers tapped blue, neck stiffening despite enough pillows to furnish a Harem—still, I realize that apart from being mother and wife, this is what I love to do: Get my brain-screams on paper, then edit them into readable screamage. I could do it for hours. Weeks. Longer.
Fear lurks, though, like a moray eel slowly hunting in color-matched corals: Each time I edit, I make the story better—so even though the novel is ‘finished’, is it ever really finished? I wake up in the middle of the night muttering, GILLS, OF COURSE, GILLS, WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THIS BEFORE, GILLS, GILLS, GILLS! If you were familiar with the heroine of my novel, GILLS would make perfect sense—and had you actually read my novel before I woke up muttering GILLS and inserted GILLS into the story appropriately, you would have thought to yourself: Huh—for the love of sea turtles, why the heck didn’t the author use GILLS in this novel? Yep. Fear.
I suppose there’s more fear, like: My novel never getting published…But that’s such a boring fear. Booooooring. As my friend L, a-real-live-NYC-actress reminds me: It’s a numbers game! You have to hang tough and keep marketing (yourself) if you believe in your material.
In between marketing and responding to LET ME SEE IT PB requests after certain agents read my (freqently more and more) mass-marketed query letter, I edit—I improve my novel and its fish-factiness. And I take my son to the beach and show him what inspires me and what I hope thrills him. I fill his bookshelves with ocean: Have I told you (I ask him, pulling out a well-illustrated, marine science-y little number) about the roughhead blenny? Come! Sit in Mama’s lap and take a look at THIS, my boy, my sweet, my precious love-cup! Ha ha!
Then back to the pillows, until what I read and edit and create loopy marginalia around puts even me to sleep and dreaming about unicorn fish and mantas that sing. To marketing, to marketing, jiggety-jig.
These amazing photos were taken by our dear friend, Mark Snyder, owner of starknakedfish.com. Mark spends much of his life under water, surfacing for the lecture circuit, or to travel to another exotic dive spot, or to hang out on research boats shooting, shooting away into spectacular sunsets. His website is a beautiful place to visit—like stepping into a tranquil aquarium. His innovative way of lighting the world beneath the waves never fails to ignite the imagination of ocean-nerds like myself.