Quantifying Revisions

Today I would like to have a brief chat with you about quantifying revisions. It’s great to say we went through a manuscript from top to bottom and thoroughly scoured it. Generally, we work hard and that’s all anyone needs to know.

But what if we want some numeric measurement of what we did, even if it’s just out of personal curiosity?

Tools like Scrivener might already give you the difference in greater detail, but I’m not experienced with it. I’m relatively lo-fi in comparison, just using Microsoft Word for most of my needs; however, Word has some helpful tools to quantify differences when you keep your drafts in separate documents.

Let’s use The Masked Queen’s Lament as an example, because I zeroed in on one necessary change when I went back and fixed it, but I did much more than that. How much more? Well, according to Word:

A comparison panel suggests 853 revisions between the first release and the re-release.
A comparison panel suggests 853 revisions between the first release and the re-release.

The image shows many more tools for comparing the differences line by line, but I only wanted one figure to summarize it for you. According to Word, that one number is 853 revisions.

There are also online tools to run a “diff”, or a comparison between two text documents. One such tool is diffchecker.com.

It gives a marginally different result in a slightly expanded way:

Diffchecker suggests 419 removals and 457 additions.
Diffchecker suggests 419 removals and 457 additions.

In this case, a different algorithm spotted 419 removals (deletions) and 457 additions. The sum of those is slightly larger than what Word gave us, but it’s in the same ballpark.

Numbers, of course, give us quantity. Quality is something else. These measurement tools aren’t going to replace a human who can tell you how one single change fixed a phrase that had been nonsense due to a word omission or a typo. They don’t describe how things are better. Their sole job is to spot the difference.

Have you ever tracked your manuscript revisions in a quantifiable manner? Have you found it practically useful in a particular context, or were you, like me, just curious? Feel free to leave a comment.

Some Thoughts On My 2018

The elapsed year was not one where any new material was written, except if you count sweeping changes or rewrites to a prior project.

What really changed was my move away from transcribing and editing at home as a primary source of income. It had been a feeble and inconsistent living all along, not really a living at all. It fostered inconsistent eating and sleeping patterns. It encouraged social isolation. I had basically been living on ballooning credit while in the city with roommates for what little I actually brought in, and with interest and fees factored in, things scarcely improved once I was back with my parents; it was still quite like paying Toronto rent, but without any of the perks of living in the city. Sadly, that part has only stabilized rather than improved.

But something had happened to me in the meantime where I couldn’t stand transcribing much anymore, and didn’t want much volume of editing. I sure didn’t want to take seasons of employment at Lush in order to make an income that was actually helpful, only to have work obligations the moment I got home. When would there be definite planned time just for me, aside from sleeping? 2018 was when I said goodbye to work that had begun to frustrate and infuriate me, in return picking up more work that paid well enough even if I had a tough time physically keeping up with it.

In 2018, nothing hugely positive happened with my love life, and that’s okay. Love can be really expensive, and rather than keep with previous efforts to date for the learning experience, I found that none of those experiences had been teaching me anything useful or positive. If I got any better at caring for the people who are already in my life, I prefer that. These are experiences of people genuinely wanting to spend time with each other. What could be better?

My heart broke really hard once in 2018, but by the end of the year, I seemed to have regained the ability to have a normal conversation between one human and another with this person. I’ll take it. I enjoyed being their friend before and it would be great if that remained true, and as usual I’m the biggest obstacle to that. I’m learning to handle such things better.

In the middle of the year, the clouds parted and a shaft of golden light enveloped a literary convention. For three days, I got to live a wonderful fantasy where my top billing in life was as a writer, and people I didn’t even know could express genuine interest in things I have created. Some of them would even pay money for copies of what I had done; astounding! I had a vaguely successful time at another event later in the year, but it is different to vend at a place where what you do is very close to why people show up.

Then it came to be that one of the things I had hyped so much was not how I remembered it, in some respects potentially harmful, and I toiled to fix it. I was embarrassed. It wasn’t the low point of my year by far; the theft of a smart device, the invasion of privacy into my years-old email account, leaning on a strapping device in a facility with countless anxious scenarios running through my head, no connection to social media to reassure me that things hadn’t all blown up while I was away from it, the strong desire to just curl up on a concrete floor and pass out and maybe never wake up. 2018 knew how to hit me where it hurt most. It didn’t kill me, but it took a running jump.

It’s about half way into the first month of 2019, and the brink of another working Monday. There’s still no certain path I’m on, my situation still seems as insecure as ever. That’s how it goes. I’m settled on never going it alone again when I finalize a book, and I might be ready to shop around for publishers or agents so that I won’t have to be the sole advertiser or marketing agency of my next work, either. I look forward to my next adventure.

Goodbye Hafla at Habeeba’s

Many of my event photos don’t make it to Flickr these days, because I give the memory stick to an event organizer who can then choose what goes online, what needs editing… it’s a better form of quality control because I don’t have as much knowledge of what I’m looking at. I can see “someone’s facial expression doesn’t seem flattering in my opinion” but it’s always the little things.

Check out Serpentina North Ensemble’s instagram and they’re just gradually putting up my pics of the Goodbye Hafla event from Habeeba’s Dance Studio.

Local Author Book Fair: Post-Event Post

Library copy of The Gift-Knight's Quest

With thanks to Jen Flynn for being a great booth helper that day and securing my ride home, and even walking to the venue in sleet; thanks also to Tamara Hecht who actually tipped me off to the local author book fair at all, or else I might not have known. And further thanks to everyone who made it, tried to make it, wanted to make it; the weather outside was frightful.

The library’s beautiful compared to some of the old high school/brick-and-mortar types I’m used to from childhood. I think the benchmark for great library as a child was probably Ansley Grove, and the Bathurst and Clark library tops that. High ceilings with floodlights up top to show you how much head room you’ve got.

I don’t know what to say about the reading itself. Is it “good”, is it “bad”. The experiences deviate only slightly from each other most of the time; most audiences are polite, this one was great. Especially two people after my reading, which finished off the first hour-block of readings.

I seem pretty reconciled to a new plan, that unless something very interesting happens to change it, this first trilogy of books will probably be self-published through services.

The plan comes with a necessary part, that I write a different book which stands alone, but will probably be linkable to the other things I’ve written, and that different book should NOT be self-published, or at least that’s not the plan. That’s the one I shop around.


Auxiliary Magazine 43rd issue graphic
The Spring 2016 Issue of Auxiliary Magazine is out now! It is available in a Print Edition and a Digital Edition. A Preview Edition is available online, to get a small peek. Information on purchasing the Print and Digital Edition can be found at www.auxiliarymagazine.com.
The Spring 2016 Issue is the forty third issue of Auxiliary, a magazine dedicated to alternative fashion, music, and lifestyle. This issue is our Music Issue and features Wesley Eisold of Cold Cave on the cover with an exclusive photoshoot and interview, an interview with Marsheaux, an interview with Freezepop, an interview with Yann Faussurier on Iszoloscope and Memmaker, an interview with Brant Showers of ΔAIMON on his solo project SØLVE, an interview with oVertone on their conditioner for fantasy colored hair, an interview and editorial with Zoetica Ebb featuring her Alien Botany line modeled by Ulorin Vex, a Designer Spotlight on Amanda deLeon, Marcy Horror as our PinUp, a Sheer Terror Style feature, a Must feature on Retro-a-go-go, and many beauty and fashion editorials. It also features fashions by Apatico, Mother of London, Bullets and Bees, Amplify Apparel, Arthlin Jewelry, BlueBayerDesignNYC, Cameo Collective, Civil Clothing, Eirik Aswang, Gothfox Designs, Hades, Insomnia Cosmetics, Iron Fist, Katie Kutthroat, Kreepsville 666, Miista, Miss Be, Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, Opening Ceremony, Rockstar Wigs, Spoiled Cherry, UNIF, VANIKA, YRU, and more. Plus photography by Saryn Christina, Catherine Asanov, Augusta Sagnelli, Jennifer Erickson, Jennifer Link Kieffer, Le Mew Photography, Julie Nikota, Yellow Bubbles Photography, and Lush Light Photography, media reviews, music reviews, our Ask Arden advice column by Arden Leigh, and more!

Generic speech structure plan

Part 1: Thank-you & generic introduction of self (audience mostly friendlies, thank-yous more important at this point)

Part 2: Warning of spoilers; explanation that in the context of the book’s age, it’s about time/the spoilers aren’t massive if you think about it

Part 3: Reading of excerpt from The Crown Princess’ Voyage

Nothing to do but prepare for May 15. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Music: Most Recent Pickups

Because I don’t tend to stray far outside without headphones on, some form of music playlist is involved in most things that I do. When I’m at an event, I leave them in my pocket or at home just because I’ve decided to exist at the whims of the DJs for that span of time, and it’s not like I’m going to whip out my laptop and do any transcribing.

But what to stream through the falling-apart Skull Candy headset, with its band temporarily patched using Scotch tape? I survived a recent stint with a hostile client by listening to The Sisters of Mercy on the buses, from York Region all the way to Lakeshore; “Sometimes in the world as-is you’ve got to shake the hand that feeds you…” I was also briefly on an Autumn’s Grey Solace kick because that’s what was needed to chill out. I wear most everything thin with over-listening so it becomes necessary to grab something new, or at least new-to-me.

Here are a few recent pick-ups. I realized I had to subtract one in case it’s not supposed to be public knowledge that I have it; you know, advance review copies, privacy of the artist, all that.


Listen to the Scatman: The Jazz Vocal/Piano of John Larkin

I don’t have a lot of Jazz in my collection, because that’s just never a direction I went with music listening as a younger person. I do get snippets of it because it’s a known part of popular culture, and I hear jokes at the expense of the genre, most recently on the TV program Scorpion. But I do already have two albums from John Paul Larkin, who you may already know as Scatman John. This release is not meant to be much like Scatman’s World or Take Your Time; aside from the last track which is flavoured somewhat more like his other albums, the most this has in common is, that’s John Larkin and he’s scatting. You’ll get the big Jazz solos, the bouncing bass lines and piano going all over the place, but I get the impression this is where John Larkin pays homage to the kind of music he enjoys most, and dare I say it, he feels a bit more at home here. Even though Scatman’s World showed up with perfect timing, in just the right part of the 90s for that album to be right at home. If I don’t listen to this as much as I could, it’s because as a listener I find this rather distant from most of my collection; however, it’s quite accessible to this casual listener. Purchased on iTunes.

Sonic Foundation – Helalyn Flowers

Let’s just roam as far away from the previous entry in the list, right? You’d think. While John Larkin’s entry into this list was a spur-of-the-moment iTunes purchase inspired by a Tumblr post, I pre-ordered Sonic Foundation and listened to the Beware of Light single many times before the album arrived. So any version of “Beware of Light” and “Karmageddon” is pretty familiar to my ears, and I wanted to hear the rest of the album. I mostly listen to this on the elliptical (a handles-free stepper which, when paired with a simple musician’s stool, works like soft-core spinning), and when working the crossbar for an upper chest/biceps/triceps workout. This is an Alfa Matrix jam, boom boom boom. I know the label more from one of the other entries on this list, and also Junksista who follows my Twitter account for some reason (not complaining, just… I’m not cool am I?) The production and mixing are tight enough to my ears that nothing distracting happens, and I can listen to this thing end to end without being jarred out of whichever perpetual daydream I’m stuck in that day. Available on order from Bandcamp in a deluxe format, among others.

Paper Dolls – Ayria

I still remember my first Ayria show; should be at the Savage Garden. The prime example of awkwardly approaching a stranger for an awkward attempt at awkward conversation, and every show since I’ve been lining up outside the door just waiting for the newest opportunity to showcase my socially challenged nature all over again. Totally worth it, every time. That first meetup and show was about… three albums ago, now. Paper Dolls feels so far like the best put together Ayria album there has ever been, the best end-to-end cohesive collection of songs. I find where I want to stop is really somewhere on the list of remixes that came with the special edition–but that’s my fault for importing all the songs of both discs into one convenient folder, so that it’ll just keep playing through them all. As for the album proper, it’s what I will take out on walks, for distance or for planting. As with Sonic Foundation, I had the early single Feed Her To The Wolves already and was quite familiar with a couple of tracks, but the rest of the album works so well that I don’t even want to skip the songs I’ve already heard too many times. I can picture the next live shows where “Fading From Me” is the song you’d traditionally wave a lighter for. I guess these days, with indoor fire safety rules and also fewer lighters, we’ll hold up our smartphones. Available on Bandcamp.

My Dear Violet – Amy’s Arms

Close to the time I crowd-funded The Gift-Knight’s Quest… well, it was the Year of the Crowd Fund for me, because I was at it with Auxiliary Magazine, I was at it for myself, I was trying to support/spread the word about other projects (such as The Scarlet Fever), and then there’s the debut album from Amy’s Arms. If it seems like I’m too reticent about ever crowd funding again just from one campaign, it’s because even though I wasn’t working for any band I still felt like I was closely watching and exerting effort for four or five campaigns within a compressed time frame, only one of which I (dis)organized myself; if I did it again, I would refuse to do it alone, and follow a more Johnny-Hollow-like plan. But you’re here for the music in relation to my life, so I should get on with that. It’s been a pleasure watching this group grow and find itself, trying out different contributors, different ideas, different permutations of the core sound. I have this album for walking and planting, too, and do have a listen of the single they released after the album. From that single Bandcamp page you should easily find the link to the new album (if not, here you go).

And for me, four is a big number of new albums to have acquired at once. I expand my collection slowly, as the budget allows, between iTunes and the occasional autographed hard copy. And as you can see, it’s often a matter of pre-ordering or supporting the album’s creation, then waiting for the musicians to make sure the album’s properly finished before they let the world listen. I have the tendency to fall back on the same things that have worked for me before, to the point that they don’t work quite the same. Four, though, is a big number of full-length albums that should last me a good while.


Charging up the caffeine meter

There is no actual “caffeine meter”, which makes sense because I’m not an android, cyborg, or other advanced inorganic mechanism. However, I refer to “charging up the caffeine meter”, generally followed by a percentage, when I’m knowingly indulging in beverages which would probably do just that if I was a machine and did have a “caffeine meter”.

Over time, though, flavour does win out. Otherwise, I could find a strong and readily available source in most energy drinks, which I don’t touch unless I have a really late evening at a club to cope with.

Here are a few different go-to sources for me.

Ethiopian coffees. I could just say “specialty beans” but the overwhelming majority of specialty beans I ever buy are Yirgacheffe, Guji, and generally Ethiopian coffees. Can also include Arabica beans, if you want to widen the scope a bit further. What I could probably do is narrow down the list of coffees I can’t have, but then I would have to run into a lot of heat-inducing, sweat-inducing brews in the course of making a checklist. I prefer a conservative approach where I go to what I know works, and reach out for something new every once in a while. This is on the top end of price and I couldn’t possibly afford something this good every week, so it’s a once-in-a-while indulgence or treat.

Supermarket blends. Supermarkets with a selection of different coffee beans; this is for the inexpensive every-day home office brew. 50% of the bag will be filled with espresso beans, and the rest layered with different flavoured coffees, like vanilla, chocolate, Irish cream. Pour into the grinder, stir a bit to mix up the beans, and grind ’em all together. Brew like regular coffee. A bigger hit of caffeine than a regular cup, but with the added flavours and mixing, not quite as powerful as drinking a rather tall or grande espresso.

Discount bags. For when I really need coffee but I’m not at a place with a selection of beans or a grinder. Quite often the poorest tasting coffee I’ll ever have, but it does the job.

Ad Astra 2016

I was only briefly at Ad Astra 2016, but I made the optimal use of my short time there.

It was my first outing at the convention, and I’m convinced not only that I should have attended this many times before, but that I should hope to get a table for the next one within the one-hour time span I’m told they can sell out.

Ad Astra is a convention with a more literary focus than some others I’ve attended; it covers the broad enough spectrum of sci-fi and fantasy, and the vendor tables involve a lot of publishers in these genres, a lot of booksellers, and some indie authors. But without the utter huge size of a Word on the Street or a Fan Expo, where I could easily get lost. Someone told me I could practically “do a panel”, but I don’t feel like I’m there yet.

Planting seeds

I’m still intermittently thinking about the speech I should write for May 15. Yes, it’s a little over two weeks away and I haven’t even started.

You should probably know that this is par for my academic career. At my worst, I tried to write a final assignment 15 minutes before it was due, arrived in class late and got a C-. At best, I would routinely churn out essays in the Scott Library a couple of hours before they were due, and it just worked, because I had spent enough time thinking about it and the worst you could say about the product was “needs an editing pass”.

No one’s grading this speech. If you are, don’t tell me unless you want to ruin the experience. I am going to have cue cards, and I am going to fill ten minutes as best I can. But I will share one of the early ideas I had that didn’t take off.

Because I’ve spent the past couple of weeks doing a lot of planting, I wanted to talk about all the firsts I had been through, and how I was planting seeds. Like the first manuscript, the first draft, the first publishing… just a faithful planting without knowing what seeds will sprout.

But that’s not where I’ve been for a while with the book I’m showcasing that day. I planted those seeds in 2006, and planted more a couple of years later. Now I’m tending to the harvest and planning the next planting.

I’ll probably read something short from the book, with context.