For my birthday this year, my mother gave me $100 towards a massage. Not groceries or rent: massage. (This is a bit of a tradition with my mum, as she understands that birthday money should be for luxuries.) Took me a little while to schedule one, since I wanted a hot stone massage, and finally my appointment arrived.

As I walked in, the RMT greeted me, gave me the standard tour, and added: “It’s been a while! Had to blow the dust off your file!”

Left alone to disrobe, I started thinking to myself: “When was I here last? It wasn’t that long. Before I went to Tokyo, definitely. So year before last I guess?”

When she came back in, I asked her how long it’s been. Then blue-screened at the answer. When I rebooted: “2013!!! THAT CAN’T BE RIGHT”

“I can show you the file?”

“No, I mean, I believe you, I just don’t believe time itself.”

“Life gets busy, huh.”

I’ll say. In 2013 I was still a graphic designer. I’d just gotten engaged and I only occasionally turned to writing for creative fulfillment. Since then I’ve written 5.5 novels and visited Japan twice, not to mention getting married. 2013! Jeez. Last massage was FIVE YEARS AGO. No wonder turning my head makes a sound like celery crunching.

In a perfect world, a massage would feel amazing and I would walk out of there painfree and blissed out. And maybe some people have that experience. But since my neck muscles are Fucked Up (medical term) due to being hit by an SUV when I was 21 and failing to get a whiplash diagnosis before it was too late–i.e. I was already getting migraines–my neck and shoulders are never pain-free. Very often they are numb; that’s not the same, but it’s often the best I can get. I don’t think about it much any more, it’s just a part of my life. And what it means is that massages hurt. Even gentle, hot stone massages. Getting 5 years of knots out of my right shoulder was like trying to roll out a macrame owl across a non-slip cutting board. It brought tears to my eyes. But whenever she asked if she should stop, I’d say no.

“Hurts so good, huh?” she’d reply and then try working from a different angle. I staggered out of the massage a zonked-out goo pile but by the time I got home half an hour later the pain was back. A more differenter pain, to be sure; the pain of muscles no longer allowed to be numb from chronic tension. There’s a weird prickling sensation of heat up and down my spine, and my fingers tingle almost like pins and needles, even today, a whole day later. But it’s a good pain. And it’s a reminder that I am getting older, and life gets less forgiving, so you’ll be happy to know that I have booked my next appointment for 6 months from now, and already set aside 2 massages’ worth of money in an envelope. If I can find time and money to do a dental cleaning every six months, I can do the same for a massage.

The editor from GigaNotoSaurus sent me edits back in August for Still Life. August was, let’s say, a bit busy what with renovations and shoulder injury and helping people move and also Pitch Wars and just generally trying to enjoy the summer weather while it lasts (har har, here were are in mid-September and it is so hot in my apartment I’ve had to flee to a cafe). There was always an excuse, and so the edits sat in my inbox, lurking. (I will add that she specifically said “there’s no rush” so it’s not like she was anxiously awaiting them on the other end.)

But September rolled around, my new fiscal year, and I am diligently trying to clear my inboxes and my to-do lists while also cutting down on FB and Twitter time and reading more and exercising and I cut wheat out of my diet and ohhh right. Edits on Still Life.

….There were a lot of comments.

(Mostly due to the fact that the editor and I come from two different schools of thought regarding adverbs. Spoiler: I like ’em. Life moves pretty fast sometimes, and that means you must verb quickly.)

Since Adverb Useage is not the hill I want to die on, I vowed to just make the changes and move on.

Took me two days. Partly that’s because Still Life is a novelette (13K words!) and partly because I hate editing and also partly because I was reading every line with a magnifying glass, attempting to discover unmarked adverbs that slipped the net. And then deciding whether I wanted to keep the adverb or not. (Sometimes I did. Sometimes I verbed differently.) By the end of the first day my brain was mush. But the second day was the worst, because the previous night I’d lain awake thinking about all that red pen.

Getting back a lot of beta-reading comments can be discouraging enough, but it’s nothing like opening up a “finished” story that you’ve edited/workshopped until your eyes bled only to find it’s a yarn-basket of Word comments. I’ve built up a thick hide from all those years of having client reviews, so I take editing suggestions always with a grain of salt–it’s about making the work better, after all–but by the end of Still Life‘s revisions I was muttering to myself: “She bought the story. She paid money for it. She bought the story. She paid money for it…” in an attempt to remind myself that these were good changes to make, from someone who already enjoyed the piece.

Still hurt like a bitch.

But it’s done.

Moving down the to-do list, next item is–


–all the beta-reading comments for Blackout Odyssey. Oh my, there’s a lot of them! Good! That’s a good thing! It’ll make the manuscript stronger! HOORAY!

….maybe I’ll take a Tylenol first.

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