Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Moaning Chair

I have to admit, I’ve had a fair bit of trepidation while awaiting the final edits on  UNCHARTED. I even anticipated yanking out the Moaning Chair. ‘Don’t know what that is,’ you say? Sure you do. Especially if you’ve ever been engaged in a high-liability profession. In a way, writing is high liability. Oh yeah, there’s a lot at stake when it comes to ego and insecurities. I’d come this far, so I knew my publisher liked the story well enough to back it—just the same…how much hacking and slashing would there be? (You'd think I would know how to use a comma by now.) I knew I’d have to make sacrifices. (Could I have made my sentences any longer?) I knew they would sting. I knew I’d cringe, feeling around behind me for the Chair that I could flop into.

So, here’s my Moaning Chair.

The first coiner of the term, to the best of my knowledge and research, was Howard I. Chapelle, in his book Boatbuilding (1941). While I have come across many colorful variations describing the Moaning Chair, Chapelle states, “In every amateur boatbuilder’s shop there should be a ‘moaning chair’; this should be a comfortable seat from which the boat can be easily seen and in which the builder can sit, smoke, chew, drink, or swear as the moment demands.”

Happily, the edits have been relatively painless—no swearing or even moaning necessary. After years of revising UNCHARTED, it felt much the same as any other round of edits. Overall, it adds a nice luster to the polish. Rhemalda’s editor, Diane Dalton has been professional and fun to work with. Even now, before my final round of edits, I can confidently say it’s been and will continue to be a very positive experience. Does that mean I don’t need my Moaning Chair?

Well, the Chair is not just for griping— it’s for contemplation, as well. Chapelle adds, “Here he should rest often and think about his next job. The plans should be at hand and here he can lay out his work. By so doing he will often be able to see mistakes before they are serious and avoid the curse of all amateur boatbuilders: starting a job before figuring out what has to be done to get it right.”

Time to work on my other novels!