From: Adm. H. Nelson,
SSRN Seaview, somewhere at sea
To: Agent Catfish
South Daytona, Fl.

Re: Rubbish

I nearly tossed my manuscript out last night. Its utter rubbish and I shouldn't
waste my ink on it. Are you in need of scrap paper? I heard a cat meow on your
last Site Pal and I hear shredded paper can help extend the life of kitty

From: Agent Catfish
South Daytona, Fl.
To: Adm. H. Nelson, NIMR
SSRN Seaview, somewhere at sea
Re: Rubbish

Thanks, Harry, but I've never heard of that, and it would be way too messy.
Besides, that meow was actually from an animatronic `cat' so I'd actually prefer
a dozen new batteries. Just make sure they're not the ones Morton used for that
toy octopus he snuck into Lee's bunk. I understand that now there's not a spare
battery to be found aboard for Chip's electric razor. Those boys!

Now for a bit of advice regarding your manuscript. I know you didn't ask, but as
your favorite HEN, I'm offering it anyway. Think of me like your sinisterly
third grade teacher scolding you in the corner. Yeech, scratch that thought, me
a schoolteacher? Heavens, I don't have a `motherly' bone in my body. Think of me
more like a big sister. (And I do mean big; do you know how hard it is to lose
weight when your friends and relatives all gave you Red Lobster gift cards for
Christmas?) Anyway, first, remember, as the Antiques Road Show has often proved,
what is one man's so called rubbish could be another's diamond in the rough.

I'm a bit surprised, however, that as a scientist, you haven't already evaluated
your manuscript to find out what's wrong.

Is the plot bunny in need of a good brushing? Or are your characters out
of synch with themselves, each other or what's going on? Is there a protagonist
of some sort your readers can be simpatico with or is it a narrative without
much in the way of conversation, or `being there'.

If not, your audience might forgo a relaxing literary excursion with you and
decide instead to belly up to the bar, shop for new shoes, or go sailing all
the while swapping tales about the fish, (or husband), that got away? (Just
kidding, but it can be grating to be what my aunt used to call a `poor dear
spinster type'. Actually I have a great deal of freedom. I don't think by now
that I could adjust to partnering with anyone. Too set in my ways. )

Oops, got way off topic here. What you need, Harry is something in your story
that your readers can be rooting for, like Crane finally able to sing his little
tune from that dreadful time in Venice. Of course, if you're writing about some
kind of sea blob and the mating habits of amoebas, anything 'touching or feely'
might be difficult.

The best thing to do, for now, is to set your manuscript aside awhile, enjoy a
cup of mocha with whipped cream on top, watch some old movies, relax and forget
about it for awhile. A day, a week, even a couple of months are normal for
setting aside `problem children'.

You'll be amazed at just how many thoughts you may come up with while it's
collecting cobwebs. Most really good stories have benefitted (not sure of this
spelling-no spell check and I never aced it in school) from ruthless editing,
rephrasing, deletions, additions, and then of course, there's the odd idea you
might get while driving in really disgusting weather, traffic and watching the
Food Network.

So, please Harry, hang on to the manuscript and when you do deem to brush it
off, let me know and we'll talk, or would you like a second pair of eyes right
now? I do a mean `c-version' for some of my friends. *

Well, all for now. You know, now I'm in the mood to dust off a few of my `kids'
on the back burners. Maybe you'll some of them in print soon.

PS. The next time you're offshore, give me a buzz (not the electrical charge
through the hull kind-the mayor was not happy about Seaview's method of ridding
herself of nosey surfers) and come to supper. Might even make some chocolate
chip cookies.
(Have I just also invited Lee and Chip? Actually, would be glad to
have them over too; it would be nice to have the boys dust the ceiling fans and
replace the light bulbs.)
*comments version aka dreaded c-version(a kind of redlined edited version of a
writer's not yet published story complete with suggested rephrases, deletions,
additions, possible nitpicking areas, etc.