Taking editing in the spirit in which it’s intended, or Humber week three

24 05 2014

rocks1-2Back many years ago, I used to work for a boss who was capable of rendering me incoherent. I don’t know what it was, but when I would bring something I’d written into her office, she’s cut and thrash all of what I’d done and I’d go all quiet and destroyed and sad and broken and, silent, head back to my humble desk and plot revenge. In a passive aggressive way.

I was a published writer, I thought to myself. I had the clips to show for it. I wrote regularly for the US ARMY Times, I had articles in magazines all over. How dare she tell me how to write??? The gall.

But after a while, I realized she was right. I wasn’t writing in the right style. I was sloppy and overconfident. She edited and edited and I learned and learned. Eventually I learned to take criticism, to sacrifice my darlings without a qualm. Mind you, when I was sending things in to the magazines I was pretty easy about things, too, but they were paying me for my story and I was so over the moon I smiled and thanked them even as I signed over copyright in perpetuity for $100.

It was harder when I was writing stuff for work – for some reason it seemed more serious and I hated losing control of my output.

Later, I had the pleasure/dread of editing for others. It’s so easy to find a way to write things better, so hard to find a way to say things for the first go-round. It was hard to restrain myself editing for others, and I tried to remember how it felt when I’d get my things back covered in corrections. Not always successfully.

So this Humber thing is an interesting experience. I asked my mentor to be firm with me. I respect her, and love her writing. I want true feedback from her. So I’ve sent in a few things so far, and she’s been firm with me. Or so it seems…

I admit to a certain feeling of despair when I get my writing back covered with corrections, but on the other hand, I’m totally thrilled. I’m getting exactly what I wanted from this program, not false praise or that “great job!” stuff that is so common in writing programs, but real, good, concrete advice.

I also know I have a lot of work to do. What fun! Looking forward to it.

Maybe I’m growing up at last.

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Writing tips and tricks and techniques and all that bumpf…

9 11 2012

I have a zillion “how to write” books. They seemingly multiply on their own in my bookshelf, but if I think my way through it, they all appear when I am feeling uncertain about my writing and feel the need for a “helpful book” to sort myself out. I buy them, maybe peek through a bit of them, and then toss them for the next novel.

Jodi Meadows, in Pub(lishing) crawl, has written a blog entry that really says all you need to do:

1. Read. Read lots and lots and lots and lots.

2. Write. Write lots and lots and lots.

3. Critique.

I’d probably add #4, since that’s where I fail worst: Send stuff out.

I think the critiquing and sending stuff out parts are the most important for me, anyway, at this point. Critiquing your own work is one thing, but learning to critique others’ is even better. The Canadian Authors’ Association has these carefully defined critique groups, with rules that are followed religiously and which result in real progress with writing. The process allows writers to hear criticism of their work without the duty to respond, and let’s them take away the critique and choose whether to use the info. Because of this everyone takes the time to write a careful, thoughtful comment on the story. I’m a member of the Early Reviewers and Member Giveaways groups on LibraryThing, and in exchange for free books, you are asked to write a review.

Some I’ve sloughed off, I admit, mainly because I either didn’t like the book or couldn’t remember it (argh!)(I do read a LOT).  But others I try to write a good review for, with few details of the story but creating the desire in someone to read it. It helps me see the good parts of some not great books, and the review as a whole helps me find the problems in my own writing.

The sending thing in is a battle for me. So I’ve made a pinky swear to send in at least one of my mystery stories for publication. I’ve got my class holding me accountable. That, and contest entry deadlines, mean that I do send things in occasionally. I realize I should be keeping track of them in a book somewhere, or on my computer, and I’m thinking now, ooh, I should get that organized RIGHT now.

But then I would be falling down on my #2 – time for me to write a lot. I am so far behind in Nanowrimo I may never catch up! Yikes!








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