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.

 

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. 

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.

New Words, New Ideas

I love language. I love to read it, write it, study it, analyze it, and I love to watch it change and grow.

Recently there’s been a mini-explosion of nouns made into verbs. Things like peopling and adulting. As in, “I just can’t adult today,” instead of the stodgier, “I can’t be an adult today.” This turn of phrase takes the boring to be verb right out of the sentence and places the emphasis on what really is being done. One isn’t just being, one is actively doing. It makes it seem much more dynamic, and therefore possibly more difficult. Instead of merely being with people, peopling acknowledges that people, and having to interact with people, takes energy, must be done, isn’t just something one floats through. Even more so for adulting. Adulting is more than just a state of being. I’m not just “being an adult.” I’m actively doing things that make me an adult.

I enjoy the changing of the language; however, only when the addition or change adds to the usefulness or beauty of the language. For instance, I’m going to mourn the passing of the word whom. It served a real purpose. It gave you another clue about what was going on in the sentence. And in real life. Who acted upon whom. Givers and receivers clearly labeled. But I’m adjusting, slowly. I know, but honestly, I’m still feeling a little sad about the passing of thee and thou. I hate to lose words.

I’m even fine with the use of third person plural (they) as third person singular (he or she) when you don’t know whether you mean he or she. It was already the correct thing to say for a mixed group. (Anyone else have 9th grade English flashbacks just then?) I see the usefulness in this world of making our language less sexist. I just wish we’d come up with a whole new word (like vee, and ver maybe), so we’d still know if we were talking about a group or just one person. And I object to using they or their when a sex is obvious. “They took their children,” is fine. I don’t know how many people were involved, whether they were men, women, or a mix, but I could ask. However, please go ahead and say, “The mother took her child,” when you know the mother is female. Not “the mother took their child,” unless you sincerely are not sure the mother is female. Just because we need sexist-free language doesn’t mean that our world has suddenly become genderless.

While I love contractions and shortenings and abbreviations and acronyms and generally making things easier to say, I am not crazy about things like “R U J.” It was useful for a while, when texting was an odious chore on just a number keypad. Now, with smartphones that have virtual keyboards and predictive text, we can go back to writing like adults.

Many of our words were shamelessly stolen from other languages. Words like sushi, or hors d’oeuvre or feng shui name new things or ideas that enrich our language and our minds. Many, like adulting or scuba or laser, are made up or began as acronyms.

Because English is willing to absorb and create, it is a rich and colorful, flexible language—packed full of words and phrases with nearly the same meaning, but slightly different connotations. It allows us to be very descriptive and specific as well as very comprehensive. Our language is multicultural and inclusive.

The lesson is obvious. If we as a society could just learn from the history of our language changes, if we could learn to accept people the way we accept their words, we could enhance the progress of our society and culture.

Drabble – Photo Prompt 1

I’m a Lucky Bear! I have my own little girl.

bear

I have my own string! My girl put it on me. I get to ride around on the string, hanging close to her heart.

 

Mommy made her take me off and leave me here on the mommy bench so I wouldn’t get lost while she plays on the playground.

Once my string broke and I spent a terrible lonely night in a dark restaurant in a lost and found box. I was not a happy bear. My girl’s mommy rescued me the next day, but that one night away was hard. And scary. I could tell that my girl had been crying too. We never want to do that again. So here I lie, on the mommy bench, waiting on my lucky girl.

A drabble is a tiny piece of random writing, sometimes from a prompt, as this one is.  They can be very short or up to about a page. The prompt can be a picture or words. Or just unprompted thoughts.

Wandering, as usual

I was just reading back on my entries here. Yeah, I know, didn’t take long.

My first one said I was going to figure out a focus. Yes, I almost snorted coffee through my nose, too.

Focus is over-rated. And keeping me from writing. So, from now on, you lucky souls get my lovely, unfocused, wandering bits of sarcasm, wisdom, soul searching, and random fits of the giggles.

Fair warning.

Remembering Why I do This

I just was looking back at some Velvet Ink things, and ran up on this review. It was one of my first clients, and someone I still do work for. It was just fulfilling to get that kind of praise.

And the product is really cool too. For those of you in the UK, I recommend you check out the website:http://www.photoincanvas.co.uk/canvas-art-shop/shop.php

We did the descriptions for baby names j-w, children’s, floral, and most of the food canvases. Fun stuff!

Feedback Comments:
“Wow! The standard of imaginative and well researched writing for a fairly monotonous task blew me away. It was truly a pleasure to read. It put my other writers to shame and I will definitely be looking to use Sherron again soon. Thank you”—Coops