Granted this is a fairly trivial topic, but ask an anxious writer how many ways there are to lose time while fretting over a passage and you’ll get a lot of interesting answers. So I was walking Jesse the dog on a bright fall morning, thinking about my chapter one. He was scampering about in the leaves, happy as a clam, I thought idly. Then: wait a minute. What makes clams happy? How would one know a happy clam from a sad/bored/angst-ridden/or merely contented clam? The phrase doesn’t even have the alliterative value of “healthy as a horse.” What do clams even have to be happy about?
So of course I looked up this pressing question. First off, an open clam, to a vivid imagination, might seem to be smiling, goes one theory. Well I guess so, although certain wood fungi could sort of look like smiles and nobody says “happy as a wood fungus.” Second, the full original phrase, early 1800’s referred to clams at high tide, when they were free to do whatever they do without fear of predators — carefree, glory hours of clams. See, The Adams Sentinel (of Pennsylvania), August 1844: “Crispin was soon hammering and whistling away as happy as a clam at high water.”
So now I know. And now I can start my revision of the first chapters, happy that they are improvements, trying not to be low-tide anxious about what cascading changes these changes will make in successive chapters.