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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Of Aliens and Lions

You remember that scene in Alien Resurrection where...


It occurs to me even the combined allure of Ron Perlman without makeup and a screenplay written by Joss Whedon was not enough to offset Wynona Rider as a supporting actress in that movie to my normal readers, and thus none of you have seen it. Allow me to rephrase.

There's this scene in Alien Resurrection where an alien is carrying Ripley to the Queen's egg chamber. Ripley regains consciousness in the alien's shiny, black arms, sees the enemy who has hunted her through 3 movies and 2 lives, and does the most unexpected thing. She embraces it. She practically snuggles into that cold, acid-filled carapace and peacefully awaits whatever is coming. Finally, she accepts.

That's a little how I feel when I open an email from The Lioness, as I did yesterday. An email containing her copy-editing of the prologue and first 3 chapters of Elementals.

Not that I am saying Kristen is a multi-limbed xenomorph with a head shaped like a deadly loaf of evil French bread. Far from it.

TT: She's actually adorable, if you've seen her pic on FB. It's a perfect front, really. No one would expect the ferocity of opinion dwelling behind that smile. There's a reason I call her The Lioness, and it isn't her hair.

I should be terrified of that attached file. My critique partner is a formidable writing force. She works with words for a living and as a hobby. In other circumstances, she could be not only a rival, but a predator with the power to pop the top of my emotional skull with her fierce mouth-tongue and I could only dangle from her claws and let her do it.

The fact that in her professional arms I feel completely safe is a testament to her skill. I have never resented a single thing she has questioned or corrected in my stories in our year together. Bless her heart, she once apologized for all the red, as if she had been doing something wrong when I was the one writing out of POV in passive voice.

I've written before how hard it is for a writer to receive critiques. Writers are an odd mix of arrogance and self-doubt. We have to be arrogant enough to put our stuff out there, but we still chew our nails until we hear how people will react (and sometimes for days or weeks after we hear).

But Kristen has a disarming way of asking questions to spur thinking. She states her reactions clearly, and knows just when to insert a little humor to ease the sting or build me up.

I haven't always followed her suggestions. If we wrote the same way, one of us wouldn't be necessary. But her opinion matters a great deal to me. Her quiet confidence in my skill means more. I haven't the words to express my gratitude or admiration.

I hope, in her editing arms, to make that passage to the egg chamber of publication safely. If not with this submission, then with another.

Once I get there is another set of problems entirely, just like with Ripley. Perhaps, dear readers, now that you know I equate publication with an audience with a Queen Alien, you can understand some of my reluctance to pursue that goal.

And, Kristen, if you want something a bit more serious, let me know. I can't write anything more heart-felt. My deepest thanks, my friend.


  1. From now on whenever people edit my work, they will appear in my mind's eye as "a multi-limbed xenomorph with a head shaped like a deadly loaf of evil French bread."

    What a great description!

    I can so relate to "equating publication with and audience with a Queen Alien." It's one reason I, too, am reluctant to pursue publication, although I never would have worded it that way (and wish I did).

  2. Hello, Andra! Thanks for stopping by!
    For those who haven't yet noticed, Andra maintains one of the "blogs I follow," the aptly named "Andra's Blog," and she was involved in last year's MLS contest. :)

  3. My dear Robynn, that is a most wonderful tribute. It would warm the cold, acid-filled heart of any copy editor worth her carapace. Bless you, my chelonian friend.


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