As you know, Sal and I are trying to write a book about something off-the-grid. Since I am the more prolific writer and inclined to colourful expressions (i.e. lies, hyperbole and fabrication) and Sal is more about facts, order, sense and sensibilities, I produced the raw material and she is in the process of refining it. The idea is to reduce the last few years of blather to a story of sorts.
When we started, we didn’t know what the story was going to be and, to be honest, we are still not sure. Old Couple Retires? Change of Life? Adventure Living on a Budget? Going Feral (but with a computer and other mod cons)?
Of only one thing I am quite sure: Sally is a butcher! Whole anecdotes are sent to the morgue. Story threads are sutured up. Themes dismembered. Categories of interest deemed uninteresting are sent to the psychiatric ward for further analysis. And every rant has been expunged! I feel like the World’s Biggest Loser, except not in weight loss but in words.
If she could do this for me in the weight loss category I would be anorexic and almost beyond recovery.
“Sal, you are cutting all the meat off the bones! A book is more than a list of accurately compiled and researched facts, it is a human, personal-interest story.”
“No, it isn’t. It’s not all about you, you know? Or me. Ya gotta get over yourself. And you gotta stop writing about me! Now what was the average weight of an adult raven again? And do we have the latest schedule of the barge?”
“Because you refer to the ravens in the same blog as the barge and people need to know the facts from the footnotes.”
“Yeah, you know….like where your sources of information came from…that kind of thing?”
“I made ’em up!”
“See! Now there’s the problem in a nutshell. You can’t just make stuff up.”
“But, of course I can! I was there. It happened to me. There were no teams of scientists watching and measuring. I fell into the sea, got cold and climbed out. What kind of fact-checking do people need for that?!”
“No, silly. I mean when you refer to a tree that you chopped down. You don’t mention the name of the tree or, if you do, you don’t mention the Latin name or whether it is on the endangered list or what kind of forest it comes from. People need that.”
“They do if they are silvaculture students but not if they are simply readers!”
“See! That’s why you need me. You don’t know squat about readers. I know about readers. I’m in a book club. You are not. Keep that fact in mind when you think to criticize, big boy! So keep writing. I intend to throw away a whole lot of what you write, so I need lots! And, if you don’t mind, I have a list of things I need you to research. We need more facts on stuff like gensets, tools and all the flora and fauna in our area. Oh yeah, and do try to be funny, won’t you? This is supposed to be a light take on living-off-the-grid and well, sometimes you are kinda boring.”