“I really liked this one,” said the brief e-mail from Mim, “Bravo!”
An attachment to her e mail contained my story entitled “On the Night Bus to Fethiye,” liberally sprinkled with red revisions despite her brief proclamation. Usually the e mails that accompany her reviews are full of questions, criticisms and suggestions. This one came at a time when I had set aside my short story project to prepare a music lecture for the Stockton Symphony.
At first I placed it into a file where I have been accumulating Mim’s edits, to be reviewed later after she’s done with them all, a total of twelve. Going through every change one by one and accepting or rejecting them is grunge work, but an essential step in this phase of the editing process. I planned to do this some time in the future, possibly during overseas flights in May, in a European vacation.
But her bravo got me.I decided to look into her revisions of the Fethiye story and soon found myself going over the others as well. By then my music lecture was over and I had the time.
Mim’s changes fall into several categories. Some are mere grammar, punctuation and spelling corrections, others shuffle sentences or clauses to make the prose flow better. I mostly accept these. Sometimes she deletes sentences and paragraphs, that to her do not seem to belong to the story. She hasn’t caught a metaphor or foreshadowing I intended. I retain some, give up others.
Mim’s toughest revisions come as queires in the sidelines with messages in red boxes. Some are easy, add this, clarify that. But others point to structural issues, plot or character discrepancies that need to be fixed. These take longer to address. Yet others relate to words she doesn’t understand, Turkish usage or medical terms.One such item was when the hero of my Fethiye story Sadri, addressed the attractive Dutch passenger in his bus named Claudy as Claudy Hanim. “How did he know her last name?” asked Mim.
When this happens I have to send her a special e mail to explain, clarifying Turkish word usage as it pertains to how people formally address each other, and explaining that Hanim is not her last name. It means Lady.
I have already impressed upon Mim that the book will have to contain a primer with explanations that cannot populate the stories because they would disturb their narrative flow. We are both keeping track of Mim’s liners that provoked such explanations. In addition to Turkish language clarifications, this appendix will contain medical terms and – believe it or not – Italian swear words.
The Fethiye story, one of my most fictional ones, was provoked by a Mediterranean encounter with a real Claudy in a yacht, and a brief story a Turkish driver told me as he drove me to Pamukkale, about a dead cat he found in a bus he used to drive.
After receiving her revisions I sent Mim some photos of scenes that are in the story, a gulet (yacht) cruising Bodrum harbor, a sunrise sky reflected in the crystal clear waters of Gokova Bay viewed from the deck of a gulet, and Claudy herself, a mermaid at the bow of the boat facing the sea. Mim responded that my stories have provoked a desire in her to visit Turkey, a country she has never seen, preferably accompanied by a native.