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Saturday, March 26, 2011

On Process and Progress: Ponderings from Pennsylvania

Hubby and I recently took a trip to Philadelphia to visit Babysis, who's in school up there. While she recovered from finals and took care of sick bunnies, we went wine tasting along the Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.* On Sunday morning, we visited Longwood Gardens, where they were holding an Orchid Extravaganza! I didn't really mean to put an exclamation point on that sentence, but it seems like the word "extravaganza!" requires one.

Since it was Pennsylvania in March, the orchids were housed in the huge Conservatory, which is seriously bigger than the college where I met Hubby. It took us an hour and a half to walk through it. Not that we moved quickly. The crowds weren't excessive, but the flowers were meant to be enjoyed mindfully, and there were lots of them. As we walked, I had a couple of writing-related insights.

Hubby took pictures with his camera, and I got a few with my Blackberry Torch, which actually has a decent camera on it. The funny part was that our picture strategies tended to be consistent with our personalities. Hubby, a Myers-Briggs ISTJ, tends to be focused on the details, and as an INFJ, I'm the big-picture person. His pictures were of individual flowers or clusters of them, and mine focused on juxtapositions and arrangements.

I'm currently struggling with editing my novel A Perfect Man. I enjoyed working out the major plot points, but guess where I'm stuck? Line editing. The flowers and arrangements were a good reminder to me that the individual blooms, or sentences, need to be perfect and healthy for the arrangement to stand.

We walked into one room where a gloomy tropical scene had been set up, and plants dripped long, string-like tendrils to brush the heads of those of us who are tall. Hubby walked in first and made a creeped out noise that I cannot reproduce in type.

"That's what I get for being married to an aspiring science fiction writer," he said.

"Thanks, sweetie," I replied. "Now please let me get a picture of that still, dark pool."

"Is something going to come out of it and eat me?"

"Not if you're good."

Poor guy…

Back in Philly, we visited the historic area of "Old Town," the home of Constitution Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were drawn up and signed. The park ranger who gave us our tour had several interesting things to say, but one that really stuck with me was that the Declaration of Independence was edited for two and a half days to reach its current form.

This was news to me. I always imagined that Thomas Jefferson, being an introvert, of course (okay, I don't know if that's true, but work with me), had put several weeks' worth of thought into it and penned it perfectly on his first try. Apparently the Continental Congress or whoever they were at the time hated it. So yes, even Thomas Jefferson, who is considered to be one of our first great American writers, was thoroughly edited. To be fair, the original with the corrections has been lost to history, so there's not actually any proof that the intense government committee editing improved it, but it got the job done.

Philadelphia is full of statues, but I particularly liked this guy, named "The Signer." I don't know who the artist is, but I think they captured the sense of triumph perfectly. To me, he seems to be saying, "I finished my manuscript!" or "I got a book deal!" I'm going to have to get a print of him and hang it up in my writing space to remind me of how great it will feel when I finally do get that novel edited and accepted somewhere.

Oh, and here are the Philadelphia food pictures. First, a cheesesteak "wit wiz":

Now a molten chocolate cake with mini-shakes and chocolate ganache in the martini shaker from Chocolate by the Bald Man:

Apparently Max Brenner, the Bald Man, is an aspiring novelist but has been too busy learning how to make incredible chocolate yumminess and starting restaurants to actually write it. Hang in there, Max! You'll get there, and then you, too, can be as triumphant as The Signer!

* Winery reviews and tasting notes are at my Random Oenophile blog. Direct links are:
Day One
Day Two