Friday, May 25, 2012

Fluff And Fold

Gather 'round, children, because it's Extended Metaphor Day on My Pet Blog! (Please hold all applause until the end...)

One of the more tedious aspects of my retail life is precision folding. If you're unfamiliar with the concept of precision folding, pat yourself on the back because obviously you didn't go wrong in life the way I did. But seriously, it's when one poor sap (i.e. me...) is tasked with taking a display of some article of clothing (in my current retail setting, that clothing is jeans. Piles and piles of jeans) and folding and refolding them in a perfect uniform way. Hence the picture on the left. But please note that when I precision fold displays, they look better that the picture on the left but that picture is the best a Google search could offer me.

I used to have a picture of the towel display I folded at The Store Before The Store. It took me six hours to finish. Sure, some of that time was spent discouraging customers from touching the display (I got what they wanted from the stockroom) but most of it was devoted to making sure that each and every towel in that wall was folded perfectly.

Because the thing with precision folding is that you can't half ass it and still consider it precision folding. You just can't refold the messiest three or four piles and call it good enough because the rest of the piles then stick out like very sore thumbs. If your objective is perfection, everything in that display needs to be retouched. Every single towel in that display had to be taken down, unfolded, shaken out, smoothed out and then refolded. That newly folded towel needed to be fluffed and carefully placed in its stack. Then each refolded stack had to be shifted forward, backward, left, right— whatever to make sure that all rows are uniform and the spaces between them are the same and so on and so forth.

It's time consuming (it seriously took six hours) and it's tedious and your back hurts and you want to punch your co-workers in the face because they're all standing around watching you fold and refold towels while not folding anything of their own and you want to trip up that one customer who's making a beeline for your display because no matter how many times you ask if you can help her, she still says no while she's pulling the middle towel out of the stack, destroying all your hard work while being completely oblivious of the Medusa stare with which you're fixing her. Then you start screaming about stupid Sisyphus and his stupid rock and his stupid hill and make plans to build a barricade in front of the display out of the folding tables in order to keep everyone away from what you're trying to accomplish. Then you stand on top of the barricade waving the French flag around until your boss calls the nice men with the giant butterfly nets to come and take you away (to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time).

 Or is that just me?

Anyway, it— the process— sucks. Big time. But eventually, it does come to an end. Maybe you've finally snapped and killed that one customer or maybe you've just finished. And then you stand back and you look at the whole display and just as you're about to congratulate yourself on a job well done, you see that one stack needs adjustment. So you go back and do that then stand back once again. And see another stack that needs just a little more attention (any of you savvy, savvy writers see where I'm going with this?), and then and then and then...

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

This is my current predicament with my writing. I've finished all the scenes and filled all the empty spaces and gotten rid of all the post-it notes requiring my attention. So this should be the part where I'm running through the streets with a boombox over my head blasting "We Are The Champions" because at last I have reached the promised land. But instead it's become the part where I'm looking at other scenes that I thought were good enough until I refolded the scenes surrounding it. So I give those scenes a fluff and then then the next crop of "not good enough" pops up.

I think we've been here before. I recognize that tree. (Name! That! Reference!)

This is my current plan to deal with my current predicament: Stop. After today, stop. Take a nice long weekend where I do not look at my manuscript in any way, shape or form. Then, after the weekend, give Effigy one last read through. Tweak anything that obviously needs to be tweaked and then (and this part terrified me, but not for the reasons you might suspect) put it in the hands of my betas. Or beta. I'm not exactly sure how many betas there are. Or will be. Or even if I'll work up the nerve to give the whole beta thing another go.

But that's a problem for another time. Like June.  Until that time, I hope everyone has a fabulous weekend. And to all you Americans out there, have a wonderful Memorial Day.


  1. I had a similar problem when I'd finished my WIP. In the end, taking a break was the best thing I did!

  2. lol... oh dear me, precision folding would drive me nuts. I am so not a precision folder. My hubby is cuz he was in the military... as well as a precision bed maker. Not I. But hey congrats on your story. I have found that a week off, then reading my story on an ereader is a huge help in viewing it in a new light.... some suggest re-reading it in a different font for the same effect. :)

  3. Just say no! Back away from the manuscript slowly.
    I think I would go insane folding towels for six hours.

  4. @Kyra- I'm hoping it'll work wonders for me too.

    @PK- I love the eReader idea. I was just going to be working on my desktop like usual but that idea is so much better!

    @Alex- I'm pretty sure I did go insane folding towels for six hours.

  5. wow if i had to fold like that--my house would be filled to capacity with unfolded laundry----you'll do great!

  6. You have to take that break at certain stages of your WIP. I usually take a couple months a year off in total from blogging. Have a great and safe weekend!

  7. Oh dear, yes, I SO know what you mean. I do this with my writing while I'm still writing which delays the manuscript completion to a huge extent.

    Just. Don't. Do. It.

    I'm as guilty of this but just. stop.
    Yeah, that.

    Also, the metaphor with precision folding is brilliant.

  8. @Lynn- Yeah. Folding the laundry is one of my epic housework fails.

    @Stephen- Thanks. You too!

    @Bee- I'm going to try to stop. Sit on my hands or something to make sure I don't do anymore. Glad you enjoyed the metaphor.

  9. I know that feeling. And I really hate folding. Yet it has to be perfect. Dangit!

  10. I know I know that reference. It's on the tip of my tongue... Gilmore Girls? Yeah, it was Lorelei who said it.

    (I didn't know what the reference was until I typed the ellipsis. I'm kind of amazed at that.)

    I agree about reading the novel on an ereader. The change in format helps so much. Printing the whole thing out would work too. But maybe you should just step away from the manuscript.

  11. Please come to my house and fold everything in my linen closet. I will give you cookies. Promise. And it'll take your mind off your MS, which it sounds like you need to do. When all else fails, step away.
    This is especially important for type-A personalities with strong perfectionist tendencies. Not that I'm accusing you of that...*nervous cough* ;)

  12. Stop is a great word - it is entirely possible to edit a novel for 21 years :-(

  13. @Christine- I really hate folding too. But now, it's sadly a compulsion. Sometimes, I go into other stores and fold their displays.

    @Liz- Gilmore Girls it is! I didn't think anyone would get that. Well done! I am stepping away from the manuscript for a few days and then giving it one last look. And that's it. Then it goes to the beta.

    @Melodie- What kind of cookies?

    @Annalisa- I'm not quite at 21 years but I think I'm getting close. Eek.

  14. My mother works in retail and she has the same gripes about customers coming through a display as if they were at a flea market. As far as your wip, taking a step back is a good idea. Then ask yourself is your "tweaking" really making it better or just making it different. If you're not making things better, then I think you can stop and let someone else read it. Also, congrats for getting it done!!! I wish I could say the same but I still have a hole in my wip, grumble, grumble....

  15. I used to work retail.
    I'm so with you, lol.


    Also, yes. BUT, I don't think there will ever be a time when I don't want to fix SOMETHING in my writing. Ever.

  16. All I can really say is don't be a Tolkien. He never would have published anything if he didn't have Lewis there telling him to let it go. It's good enough; in fact, it's great.

    There are still things I find in my book that I wish I had caught before, but, the thing is, other people don't catch them. Which is not to say that other people might not see -1- of them, or even 2, but they don't see most of them. You just have to sort of be accepting of that. (And there's actually on huge mistake that -no one- has caught, and I'm just holding my breath over that one until I have a chance to do a revised manuscript.)

    All I'm saying is this: it really doesn't have to be perfect. Because there is no such thing, and, if you keep trying to get there, you'll end up with a manuscript that doesn't get published until after you die.

    And I'll still read for you, but I'll do a better job with a printed manuscript than on the computer.

  17. Okay, now I feel bad for messing up the sales displays at stores by picking the one in the middle. Oops.

    And I think you have a great plan there. :)

  18. Oh, this post made me want to laugh!

    because no matter how many times you ask if you can help her, she still says no while she's pulling the middle towel out of the stack, destroying all your hard work while being completely oblivious of the Medusa stare with which you're fixing her. LOL!

    And the whole thing about you waving your French flag around until the butterfly net men come to take you away ... Haha, I can just imagine that!

    (Sorry, I'm probably not helping by laughting about this!)