Don’t Fear the Reaper-uh-Editor

I like to share my funny and interesting adventures with people. I love to hear them laugh. But life’s not always funny. Or even fun.

Some things just have to be endured. Struggled through. Worked out. For those times you need good friends and people who know the things you need to know.

You can’t go through life without help, and you can’t create good writing without an editor.

Writing has the same ups and downs that life throws at us. Sometimes characters write themselves. Those are the giddy moments. Your hands can’t even keep up with your brain. Sometimes the words stick somewhere in your elbow instead of flowing out the ends of your fingers. Those are the moments that you just keep plodding along, struggling, but not giving up. You finally think you have it down. You work and work and write and write and try to fix all the errors and then the manuscript comes back bleeding red ink. No one enjoys that. But it’s not the tragedy that you think it is. It’s a chance to improve.

Some authors are so afraid of an editor’s pen that they just skip that step. Or they pick an editor they know will be “kind” to them. Someone who will let them get by with less than their best. Trust me; long run, that is not the least bit kind. You need honesty from your editor. You need support and collaboration from your editor.

Don’t cheat yourself out of a strict, experienced editor. Those are the best kind.

Don’t think of the editor as the enemy or as that one school teacher that enjoyed marking your papers down. Editors are your most loyal allies. A good editor wants to see the artist succeed. Wants that author to end up with something that no one can poke holes in or say wasn’t carefully written. Or edited.

Also, make use of your editor’s knowledge. Ask your line editor for not just corrections but also comments on why the words or punctuation need to be a certain way. Ask your editor if you are making the same mistakes more than once. Use your editor as a teacher. Good editors generally love what they do and are always excited to talk about language and how you can improve it. They know that the more you know about the mechanics of writing, the less you’ll have to struggle with the words. The better at your own language you are, the more smoothly the ideas will move from imagination to paper. You can devote all your energy to the creative work.

In life we need people who push us to be our very best. In writing, we all need good editors who do the same.


Breath and Bone Writing Prompt Challenge: Breath, Bone, And Blood/Sarah Doughty

Another poem from the extraordinary Sarah Doughty.

Brave and Reckless

I am more than the shallow breaths that escape my aching lungs, billowing up in a little white puff against the chilly, moonlit night. I am more than the weight you’ve forced me to carry on my shoulders. I am more than the distant, far-off look in my empty eyes. I am more than the bones you cracked in anger or bruised for the fun of it. I am more than the blood you spilled, for I have turned all that pain into something different. Something you can never touch.

I have turned my blood into ink. It slides down my skin like a caress. It flows in my veins and coats my insides like body armor. And it makes my mind come alive like you never could.

© Sarah Doughty

Image courtesy of Laura Makabresku

Sarah Doughty is the tingling wonder-voice behind Heartstring Eulogies. She’s also the author of The Silence…

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Editing My Teeth

There I was, once again at the mercy of my dentist. It’s not his fault; I have terrible teeth. I got the wrong tooth genes. I’ve become resigned to them. They get problems and need to be fixed.

So while I was there, having maybe had a little bit of gas, I began free-associating, and next thing I knew, I had decided my dentist was my tooth editor.

Bear with me.

They’re my teeth (Manuscript); I grew (wrote) them. I think they are a masterpiece.

I can do the basic work on them—brushing and flossing; anyone can do that. Just like most authors can do the basic line editing on their own work.

But it’s not enough. There are parts of my teeth that I can’t even see. The front looks good, the back must be fine too, right? Authors are often too close to their work to see things like awkward phrasing or missing words. They know what it’s supposed to say and their minds and just fill in with context that the reader won’t have.

My dentist, with his special tools and skills, can see problems I don’t even know to look for.

Editors have special tools and skills, like red pencils and semicolons; editors can see problems or potential problems with a manuscript that authors don’t see. Or an author might not even know could be a problem. Or how to look for these problems.

I need a specialist to find and fill holes, level things, and even just to give my teeth a much more thorough cleanup and polish than I can manage.

Authors need their editors to clean up typos and dangling modifiers, to help point out plot holes, and to generally turn an already fine manuscript into a thoroughly clean and polished masterpiece.

Authors need editors as much as editors need authors. Don’t let beautiful work end up failing for want of good polishing.

And maintain good dental health and see your dentist twice a year. 

Guest in Jest #2 Simply So

Sorry Mom.

Everyone Else Has the Best Titles

Hi, I’m Sherron, from the South, and I am a bookaholic.

I currently have my dream job, which is freelance editing. —More to read!

My mother is also an avid reader like me so we’ve always shared books back and forth. Now with the digital age we share a nook account. Works out great. She buys some, I buy some, and we both get to read without mailing the books to each other.

Recently, I was trying to get into the B&N account to add a couple of books to our library. My password didn’t work. Repeatedly. I can’t change it because they wanted to email something to my mother’s email.

I remember she’d recently had a complete computer apocalypse, and had been forced to change some passwords that only the old computer had known. I thought maybe B&N was one of them.

I email; she sends the password. Funny…

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Why I Don’t Promote Bloggers

Reblogged from Opinionated Man —supporting other bloggers.


HarsH ReaLiTy

1 – Promoting other bloggers through reblogs and pingbacks is an awesome way to network and grow your community.

2 – WordPress has a forever growing group of bloggers blogging on every topic you can think of. Promoting new bloggers and new topics helps to spread ideas and cultures around the blogosphere.

3 – When you actively network and help promote others your readership in turn benefits. You will see incoming traffic, views, and even more special are the comments that come from actively engaging other bloggers.

4 – Promoting other bloggers effectively can give you a small break from when you are out of blogging ideas. It may also help to inspire some ideas of your own!

5 – The Reader might look like a mess of advertisement and spammy posts, but if you sift through it you can find some great nuggets of inspiration! Personal bloggers are still…

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Walt Whitman

Time for another poet that has greatly affected me.

This time a well-known classic, Walt Whitman.

One of the greatest poets of all time, he’s been compared to Homer and Shakespeare. He is probably best known for Leaves of Grass, a collection of poems that includes my favorite, “Song of Myself.”

While I was pregnant, I read aloud many poems from Leaves of Grass to the babies.  I think all babies should hear great words while they’re still too young to object.

The poem, “Song of Myself,” should be required reading for all ages. I’ve included a link below to the whole poem since it is quite lengthy. But for right here, one of the best and most often quoted stanzas.

“Do I contradict myself?

Very well, then, I contradict myself.

(I am large. I contain multitudes.)”

Walt Whitman

Link to “Song of Myself” by Walt Whitman

Chaos on the Deck

“Rusty and the Raccoon”

This adventure happened about 4 years ago, but I was so traumatized I’m going to tell it to you, too.

Our sweet, mixed breed, lumbering, greying Rusty was a more svelte and peppier dog. Of course by svelte I mean more like a beer keg and less like the whiskey barrel he is now. (Clover the loony dog was obviously just a little puppy; I was still “taking” her out to do her nightly business.

We live in a suburban area, but there’s still some wildlife, including squirrels, chipmunks, groundhogs, and the occasional raccoon. We suspected the raccoons were getting up on our deck at night and polishing off the dry cat food, but didn’t really care. Raccoons have to eat too, right? They came and went without disturbing anybody (including the cat whose food they were eating).

Rusty, however, did NOT like squirrels or raccoons in his yard and has chased them several times, running them out up over a fence or up the occasional tree. We thought it was humorous, because he never even got close, and we “knew” he wouldn’t.

Until last night! I took Rusty and Clover out for the last poop of the day later than usual by a good hour or more. As we came out the door, I saw a striped tail disappearing over the edge. Rusty went nuts getting down off the deck. Apparently this raccoon turned the wrong way or hesitated or something, because next thing I knew Rusty had him! There was a lot of growling and barking and puppy yipping and screaming (that was me). Mark rushed out shouting and waving the fire poker.

Thankfully, either him opening the door or me screaming or something distracted Rusty and the raccoon got away. We checked the dog over carefully and there were no scratches or blood and he’s up on all his shots. So all was basically well. But it was WAY too exciting for me and now the cat food is picked up before dark.


By the way, did you know that raccoons are more likely to carry distemper than rabies? So make sure your dogs get all their vaccinations, not just rabies.

Rescued, Again.

My child and I had an errand or two to take care of the other day. The last couple were on a college campus. By the time we reached the last errand, I couldn’t make said child go back in one more time. He’d had all he could handle of strangers, waiting, walking and bureaucracy. So I told him to wait in the car while I dashed back in. I found the office I was looking for and met the newest of a string people heading it up. I was brief. I talked to the woman for less than 10 minutes. We didn’t even sit down.

Thomas was sitting in the car, listening to the radio when I got back. Of course, when I go to start the car, it just goes click, click, click. We don’t want to call for help, again. This is the fourth time this year someone’s had to come jumpstart the Versa. But we’re stuck. I call AAA, and they are very nice and promise to have someone out in an hour and a half, which is an hour more than we have. We have to call the husband. He hates to come to that campus because it is weirdly laid out and he can never find anything there. And he has to leave work to come. And he’s tired of rescuing us so often. Consequently, by the time he gets there in his much more reliable, twenty-year-old Maxima, he’s already all grumpy.

Just to add the icing to the cake, of course, we are parked nose-in, in a space next to a wide berm. With cars on either side.

Nothing to do but push it out of the space so that we can reach the battery. My two guys start pushing the car out of the space, while I am doing my best to turn it toward a curb so the parking lot traffic could get by us. Add in that the power steering doesn’t work without the battery, of course, so steering the thing backwards over to the curb was going to be tricky, even if we’d had a lot of room to maneuver. Which we did not.

Just as we are starting this procedure, suddenly the traffic in the parking lot is twice as heavy and worse than awful. Because of course, when I have to get rescued, I like to make it as difficult as possible. Thus, just for maximum comedic value, we are trying to back up two cars in a campus parking lot, at the most popular class change time, 10:30 AM.

There I am, manhandling the steering wheel as best I can but still not turning enough and the Versa hits the curb instead of lining up nicely beside it. We call it good, because students are dashing around and between us and fighting over our newly emptied space. One squeezed his car across the path of the Maxima as it was backing up to get in line with the Versa. There was almost a wreck. I mean, the Maxima was OBVIOUSLY going backwards. The kid couldn’t wait the 3 seconds for our car to stop? So Husband was really grumpy by then.

There’s the usual jumper cable business, and eventually, we did get the car started. The child and I decided we needed something to perk us up after that adventure. We stopped at Sonic to get hot fudge cake sundaes and onion rings to console ourselves. The perky little car hop brought us our stuff and offered us catsup, which we didn’t need, and then bopped off before we realized we had no spoons or napkins. It was that kind of day. We just brought our ice cream home. That was all the fun we could stand in one day.


Damn it Jim, I’m an Editor, Not a Writer

You know I’m not a writer, right? I’m an editor, a proofreader, a beta, someone good to just talk to about the structure of your article or novel. That’s my real talent. I can take something good and help make it great. I know how to say what you wanted to say, but more clearly. Moreover, I know how to keep it in your voice while still making it correct. I know a dangling modifier from a squinting modifier, an adjective from an adverb. I know how to spell weird words that don’t follow the rules. I know examples of better words to help you make your point, exactly. It’s my superpower.

All writers need good editors. Don’t think you can proof your own work, or your mom can. A good story, or an excellent novel, has had many eyes looking at it, finding things the others missed. The more experienced and trained an editor is (sorry moms) the better your final creation.

Don’t say, “I don’t have the money for an editor. I can’t afford editing.” You can’t afford not to have your work edited. Scroll through a few reviews of self-edited works. Someone will always mention the mistakes and errors. Mistakes make people stop and look at the error. They jar the reader out of your narrative and out of your control. It takes away from the possibly excellent piece of work. It makes you look like an amateur.

Your editor doesn’t have to be me (though, of course, that’s what I’d prefer). However, it needs to be someone experienced, someone not vested in the piece, someone with enough distance to be ruthlessly honest. Someone who notices details. And of course, someone with impeccable spelling and grammar.

I’m an editor, and I still have someone else proof everything I put out there. You should too.