Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Editing MGG, the book

Now that Migs has blogged about it, I might as well join the excited talk. Yep, two of my co-Fabcasters, Migs and McVie, will have books coming out this July. A small independent publishing house has gathered the best of their blog entries and collected them into book form.

McVie's, to be called The Wet Book: Stories From the Bathhouse, will be about his escapades in those mysterious, alluring places. Don't be scared by the subject--the encounters he has blogged about actually make for fascinating reading (and imagining), the sex almost always leavened with humor, smarts and common sense. With the witty McVie, it's never going to be merely tawdry or sleazy, I promise you. His book editor is noted screenwriter and producer Raymond Lee.

From McVie's intro to his book:

“This is a collection of blog entries featuring my bathhouses experiences. I blogged about them because the incidents had funny, memorable or out-of-the-ordinary moments that lifted them above the usual hot-steamy-sex-then-forget-about-him-and-go-home experiences one has in such places.

So why this book? This collection has a lot of sex in it, and I think sex should have a lot more humor in it. Or rather, people should have a more relaxed view of sex. Sex can be as sacred or as sleazy as one wants it to be. Let us not put it on a pedestal, nor hide it inside our closets. Let us celebrate. Let us have safe fun. And what’s safer than reading about sex?”

Migs, meanwhile, was asked by Grey Matter, the publisher, to gather the best letters sent to him by his readers for publication in book form. The letters will appear with Migs' replies, plus other readers' comments--many of which spin off into new story threads of their own. Another editor was originally tasked to go over the manuscript, but when he backed out due to scheduling conflicts, I happily stepped in.

It wasn't easy editing the book--not because of Migs, who always wrote with a sincere, steady hand and hardly needed my proverbial red pen. The letter-senders and the comments, which typically ran into the hundreds, especially when the letters offered steamy, provocative or controversial stories, were the big challenge.

Many of the letter-senders dashed off their letters with a combined urgency and casualness that made mincemeat of the usual writing conventions--punctuation, capitalization, grammar, etc. I don't blame them--the Internet has made it permissible to write like this (capitalization, for instance, seems to be going the way of the dodo).

But if you could get past the extra-loose writing, there was a big consolation: The stories they shared were heartfelt, illuminating and heart-wrenching. While re-reading the letters, I found myself tearing up a few times--only to laugh heartily when it came to the comments, because readers could be quite blunt and irreverent in their feedback, couching their well-meaning advice in humorous, even snarky terms.

A lot of the comments, usually verbalized off-the-cuff thoughts, would tax the skills of any decent editor. Again, I don't take it against the commenters--this is how conversation is happening online. Though not in every case, mind you; there were more than a few who wrote impressively and consistently well from entry to entry.

Due to space constraints, only a select few letters and comments could make it to the book (really, how could it be possible otherwise with, say, 217 chatty comments for just one entry?). So, aside from tightening the prose, I also had to prune the extensive feedback section based on three criteria: Does the comment say something useful? Does it say it well? And would it be representative of the diverse range of opinions and ideas--even contrary ones--that Migs has always encouraged in his blog?

Those comments that appeared to offer a good thought or two but, unfortunately, were written in an atrocious manner had to give way to others. I didn't want to do any major overhaul of either the letters or the comments--simple tightening for clarity and conciseness would be enough. The moment I rewrote the text extensively, the individual's voice would be lost, and it wouldn't be his (or her--there were a couple of women letter senders!) contribution anymore. So I didn't go there.

Migs will have much more to say in his introduction, which also sketches a backstage view, if you will, of his blockbuster blog. Wait for the book--and do buy a copy, will you?

P.S. I've also been asked to write the introduction to a forthcoming anthology of plays by a major playwright. The book might come out this year, too. Exciting days ahead.


Nimmy said...

Congrats! Can't wait for the book release :)

Guyrony said...

With the stories shared, Migs' strong opinions, and your knack for editing. I'm pretty sure this will be worth the read and the wait.

Miss you Gibbs!

Thad said...

Congrats to McVie and Migs! :-)

joelmcvie said...

Gibbs, gawa kaya tayo ng weekly magazine? O kaya a Vhaklhur Section for PDI? Ahahaha!

Anonymous said...

I am curious: Will MGG and McVie use their real names?

ian said...

Wee!!! I'm excited! Congrats, McVie and Migs! :)

beektur said...

May illustrations ba? May stage or movie adaptation? :)

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