Monday (Editors’) Motivation

I found this quote and found it to be quite amusing. I actually chuckled to myself when I did, which is quite rare since the internet has desensitized me as to what is worth laughing at online.

Editing quote

 

Writers, this is a good thing to remember from time to time. Editors, maybe have a sign made in solid gold to hang above your desk so you never forget it, even when days are tough.

Have the best of Mondays, friends.

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

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Why You Should Kiss Your Editor

Manuscript PageI read a rather upsetting quote the other day that was something along the lines of, “editors edit because they cannot write”. I can’t admit to remembering the exact context or source of the sentiment, but I found it to be naive and juvenile all the same.

Being an editor is similar to being a dentist. Often, people dread paying you a visit, but they have to do it in order to show off those pearly whites (or pearly pages) to the world. Editors need to polish, shape, scrape, and clean a manuscript just as a dentist does to your teeth. It’s bad enough to have writers dread your red pen, but to have people who believe that you do what you do because you could’t make it as a writer? Well, that’s even worse.

I write during about half of my professional time, and the other half is spent editing. My writing is good enough to be published to the masses, and my editing good enough to prepare the content of my co-workers for the same. Am I an anomaly? I think not. I think that perhaps whoever came up with that idea either had a terrible experience with an editor, or has a lot of trouble editing themselves.

An editor can be the difference between a flop and a bestseller, truly. They don’t only look for spelling and grammar issues, but they’ll make sure that when you said Sally’s eyes were blue, that they don’t change to brown halfway through the book. They’ll make sure that your readers won’t stumble or lose interest. They’ll make sure that when you say that your character traveled from one place to another in a single day that it makes sense logically. Some will even test recipes and calculate the passage of time to ensure consistency.

An editor expects to receive a rough story, even though the writer spent ages smoothing it. They’ll go over it carefully, exploring the intricate webs and structures of your words, sanding it down and helping to define the shape. And often, because they spend so much time perfecting the work of others, editors make excellent writers.

For me, the two go together like peas and carrots. To write well, you have to understand language at a deeper level than someone who does not write. To edit, you have to have a passion and adept knowledge for writing. You cannot expect to write well if you have no interest in editing, and you cannot expect to be a good editor if you do not enjoy writing.

I think that too much emphasis is placed on separating the two, when in actuality, editing should be set alongside reading as well as writing. To create quality material in any capacity, for any audience, you need to practice all three skills. They complement each other in such subtle ways that to ignore one is to damage the other. And in damaging one, you cause cracks and crevices in your stories.

Editors take your story and simply point to where they think that you could improve it. And ultimately, it is your work, so any good editor will make sure that you know that you may or may not accept some of their suggestions. They’ll walk you through the changes, and will often be willing to discuss or debate anything you wish to question. Remember, if something comes back to you with a lot of red, it means that you have an editor who spent a great deal of time trying to make your work the best that it could be.

So, instead of harping on them for missing a mistake or for wanting you to make a change that you don’t want to, try to find a little bit of appreciation for how much time they put into polishing your creation. Remember that they have the soul of a reader and writer as well, and that, if you picked a good one, they likely know what they are doing.

We should all be grateful to have people around who are willing to read our work over and over and over and provide insight while fully expecting to be criticized. So next time, show them that you genuinely appreciate their time and their skill. Show them that what they did made a difference to you, and that you think that they are just important to the story as you are.

What have your experiences with editors been like? What could have been better? Do you think that writers need to have editing skills as well?

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

Wednesday Words

I actually enjoyed choosing a picture and thinking of adjectives to go with it last week, so I am going to do it again today. Feel free to join in with a few words that this picture speaks to you.

If you didn’t see my post last week, I asked that anyone who felt up to it take a moment to think of a few descriptive words for a picture in order to exercise the part of the writing mind that we use to shape our worlds and scenes around our stories. So, you can either do that,

Or:

If you had to choose a book to take place in this setting, what book would it be? Was it a good book and would you read it again?

The picture that I am sharing today whispers the following to me: Cool, calm, and evening. As well as home, away, and quiet. What does it say to you?

Sunset on Lake | Quoth the Wordsmith

 

Until next time you can find me on Facebook.

Writing Exercise: Monday Imagery

Imagery is essential to writing. Without it, we would be incapable of of creating anything for our readers to see. Which is the entire point of writing, isn’t it? To offer sight to the blind, and sound to the deaf? To let someone without children to glimpse what it is to have them, or to slip someone a favorite taste or smell?

In that light, I would like to play a game. Below you will find a picture. If you have the time and the desire to play along, please offer a few thoughts that describe how the picture affects you. What that picture pulls from your psyche and spits out in the form of words.

Mine would be: sweet smelling, cool morning, and thick air.

Tulip Field

My thanks, in advance for your participation. This exercise is so that we can gain insight into the minds of other writers and how they view things, and so that we can all practice our skills in describing imagery. It’s a simple task that may help to keep your writing brain going as we all trudge through another sleepy and task-ridden week.

Happiest of Mondays to you all!

I’ll be on Facebook until next time.

What Skills Make a Writer?

What Skills Make a Writer?Writing isn’t just about writing. It is a skill that is created and honed and grown by a plethora of other skills coming together to form a cohesive and separate form of art. It is like market of trades that meets and expands and works together to serve the greater good of your soul.

In order to write at all, even poorly, we require certain skills. In order to write well, we first need to develop other arts. Why? Because if we simply expect to be able to write for an audience with no purpose or understanding of the skill, we will fail. It is actually as simple as that.

You see it with many self-published authors (not even close to all, mind you, but many). They write a story because that has always been a dream of theirs, but they never quite mastered any of the other skills that go with it, so their story falls short and is what anyone who received work of a similar quality from a carpenter would call “shoddy”. Like I have said before, wanting to write is not enough. Neither is physically being able to type. You need more than just an ability to hold a pencil to create anything worth reading.

Like what, you ask? Let us explore:

Reading: Writers have to be readers. Lovers of words from books, articles, blog posts, advertisements, commercials, newspapers… everything. In order to begin to understand tone and style and flow we must read for pleasure and for learning. In our early years we likely read simply for pleasure. In our school years, we probably read for learning. But now that we want to be writers, we need to be able to read in both ways at the same time.

Imagination: I don’t care whether you want to write fiction or non-fiction. You must have an imagination to do either. Too many people confuse having a lively imagination with the ability to dream up dragons and sea monsters, but to tell a story, any story, you need to be able to see it in your mind. That’s what your imagination does. It creates faces and voices and gestures, and yes, sometimes knights and wizards and flying horses too. Your imagination is an absolute necessity to writing.

Patience: Writers must be patient creatures. We must be the fisherman who sits in the boat all afternoon, quietly waiting for the fish to bite. We must allow stories to come to us, and we must be patient with our skills. We must recognize that it takes time to become something great, and that the best thing to do to fill the time until then is to keep on running that whetstone along our minds.

Optimism: Writing is one of the only trades that makes you put in thousands of hours of work before giving you a dime, if it ever does. The only thing that you can do to keep pushing yourself to write that next line, to dot the next “i” is to be optimistic that someone, somewhere will want to read what you have created. That you have the ability to create something worth reading, worth finishing. We may not all feel like optimists, but what else would you call someone who works and works and works in their spare time in the hopes that perhaps it will pay off someday?

An Understanding of the Great Good: Often, we feel that our characters, our stories, are part of ourselves. They are like our children, having never existed before we created them. We carefully shape and mold them into something solid, something real. And then, if necessary, we destroy them. Writers should be able to recognize when a sacrifice needs to be made, whether that means cutting a character or giving up on a story. If you can’t accept that you will sometimes fail, you have already done so.

Thinker: Writers have to be able to think critically, and to analyze. We need to problem solve and see a variety of possible solutions as opposed to one straight road. We need to be able to foresee at the very least the immediate path ahead, if not a few miles even farther. You idea is point A to point B, thinking is what gets you from one to the other.

We also need to have a good sense of humor, a willingness to learn, and bit of humility and confidence. We should try to exercise forgiveness, if not to others, than to ourselves. We should know when to push ourselves and when to take a break.

I think that one of the reasons that writers are so intriguing is that the craft requires us to wear so many different hats. We are the lone wolves that wish to be part of a pack of other lone wolves. We are the ones who place other writers on pedestals but never hope to be there ourselves. We are passionate and cold all at once, and we are smart and witty and thoughtful. We are not the same but we are similar in some ways. We are sometimes the most conflicting professionals to walk the earth, but I don’t think I would have it any other way.

What skills do you think are essential to writing? Which do you have the most trouble with?

Until next time you can find me on Facebook.

Wednesday Words

Some wisdom in the form of words for your upcoming Wednesday.

Remember, we’re all working towards something, no matter if we’re taking our first steps or if our heels are like old leather from plodding along down the path.

Words for Wednesday

For more words, find me on Facebook.

The Romance of Writers

The Romance of WritersOh, to be a writer! To waft dreamily through life and to drink it in like lukewarm tea. To feel emotions with edges like swords and flavors of honey! To taste the world with words and to see stories in every crack, in every stone. To be part of an art that consumes you, that breathes fire into your soul. To be a writer is the very essence of romance and of passion.

Yeah. Right. To be a writer is more like trudging through life, dragging a boulder of ideas behind you. To feel emotions like any other human being, but to have the gift (or curse) of being able to articulate them precisely. To experience life just like every other human out there, meeting both struggles and luck on the way through.

How often do we see the life of a writer romanticized? On TV, in books, and in every day life. To be a writer is this strange thing where others view you both as a starving artist and as one of the luckiest people alive. It’s an art that is both respected and scorned at the same time. Often, we are put into this box in which we are labeled as passionate, fiery, and sometimes reactive individuals. We are seen as people who feel things much differently than everyone else.

But do we? I don’t think so. As much as I would like to think that, as a writer, I have some magical gift that allows me to experience life differently than anyone who doesn’t write, I recognize that that is an unreasonable and rather self-absorbed assumption. Think about all of the fictional writers that you see portrayed: Johnny Depp in Secret Window, Hank in Californication, Hannah in Girls, any number of journalists in The Newsroom–they are either mentally unstable, entirely selfish and irresponsible, or they simply use being a writer as an excuse for bad emotional behaviour.

They treat writing, and the life of being a writer, like any other stereotype, and they make the rest of us look bad.

To be a writer is hard work, but not any harder than anything else out there. Anyone can write, just as anyone can paint or sing or dance. How good we are at it aside, it doesn’t really make us different than anyone else. Perhaps we find it easier to describe our emotions, or to relate our ideas to others. Maybe we have bigger vocabularies. But we don’t all behave as if we are too sensitive to be alive. And we don’t all feel like writing is as easy as breathing or as difficult as wringing water out of a dry sponge.

Writing can be romantic, but so can any number of arts and professions. And while we can make everything sound like roses and butterflies, we can also be blunt and clear and precise. We aren’t all waiting to become professional authors, and we aren’t all complaining about how difficult our lot in life is.

We don’t all drink tea and wear woolen shawls. We don’t all have cats or coffee addictions. We don’t all like red wine and folk music. Romanticizing writing is one of the things that makes it so difficult to do. When we have preemptive expectations laid on us because of misconceptions or popular culture, it slowly strips away our individuality as artists and as people. It allows people to make a first impression of us even before we meet them, which makes it hard to feel as if you are being taken seriously.

To write, and to do it for a living, is bloody hard work. But so is programming, and so is construction. Writers are no different than anyone else, and we come in a variety of shapes and sizes (emotionally, mentally, and physically!). We’ll never be “one size fits all”, and that’s ok. We don’t need to be seen through any color glasses, pink or otherwise, so be proud to be the writer that you are, and next time someone has a typical reaction to your announcement of being a writer, just take a deep breath and remember this post.

What are some misconceptions that you have encountered about writers? Do you think that the profession is overly romanticized? What fictional writer do you despise the most?

Care to join me on ?