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Posts Tagged ‘editing’

Summer is not my most productive season for writing. There are too many distractions—gatherings, to-dos, house guests, falling into an overheated swoon—and this summer has had more than its normal share, what with the passing of companion animals, a switch from office-office to home-office, and most recently, a week of sitting bleary-eyed, head-achy, and miserable, waiting for the smoke from wildfires to clear.

Also, I was editing a book.

Alas, not one of mine.

I have the honor of being a beta-reader for a good friend. He’d completed his manuscript and was in need of a fresh set of eyes. Editing someone else’s work is always an opportunity to learn, for me. Whether it’s through analyzing a passage that works well or through hitting a bump in the prosaic road, reading another’s early draft is a great way both to learn new things and to reinforce lessons learned long ago. (more…)

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This week’s post brought surprise, rage, and embarrassment, all in a single envelope. Also enclosed: a copy of The Timberline Review #7, wherein my story, “The Book of Solomon,” is published.

So, exactly why did receiving a hardcopy of my published work engender such fire and furor?

Read on.

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Le crayon rougeOops. Sorry.

By “writing to the market” I didn’t mean “gearing your work-in-progress to match current market trends” (which, I feel compelled to add, unless you are a spectacularly fast writer with a very good agent, is a fool’s game).

I mean “writing to the market’ as in writing copy for marketing. Which is what I’ve been working on for the past couple of weeks.

You see, my wife opened a business. (more…)

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Stack of BooksI was about halfway through Donna Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Goldfinch, when I stumbled while reading the following:

Whenever he was gluing up a piece of furniture it was my job to set out all the right cramps, each at the right opening, while he lay out the pieces in precise mortise-to-tenon order—painstaking preparation for the actual gluing-and-cramping when we had to work frantically in the few minutes open to us before the glue set, Hobie’s hands sure as a surgeon’s, snatching up the right piece when I fumbled, my job mostly to hold the pieces together when he got the cramps on (not just the usual G-cramps and F-cramps but also an eccentric array of items he kept to hand for the purpose…

The reason I tripped over these lines is due entirely to the use of the word cramp. It popped me out of the story, puzzled me, and continued to nettle me through the ensuing days, enough so that it engendered this blog post.

The stages of my reaction were as follows: (more…)

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Le crayon rougeIt amazes me how, every time I read something I’ve written, I want to change it. When I finish it I think it’s great, then I put it down for a while, and when I pick it up again, I’m like…bleah…and I’ve got to make changes.

This has never been more true than with “The Book of Solomon,” my most recent short story, which I’ve recently ceased trying to sell to the “literary” markets.

Now, in my defense, this story is a major departure from my previous fiction, on many levels. It’s a genre I’ve not tried before (historical fiction), and it’s a style very unlike most of my other work. influenced heavily by authors like Gabriel Garcia Márquez and Alice Hoffman, I purposefully avoided dialogue, working toward a more internal narrative and fluid style. Also, I did not shy away from complex syntax; I wanted to let the narrative flow in the way my character might think rather than how a storyteller might speak. Lastly, there’s a flipping ton of chronological intrication, jumping around from present to past to deep past to near future to imagined future.

The result was a minefield. Every page carried dangers. (more…)

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Dragons AheadIt’s been an interesting week, writing-wise, and while no, it wasn’t “interesting” in the sense of “Oh God Oh God We’re all going to die!” it was interesting in the sense used by the old Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times.

This week I received:

  • validation on my writing
  • several rejections on my writing
  • bad news on the job change front
  • an invitation to submit a book to a trade show

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Le crayon rougeA large part of my “journey” from IT professional to editor is bolstering my own confidence level. While I’ve edited, copy edited, and proofread over a dozen novel-length books and scores of shorter works — both for myself and for others — I haven’t done this work as an editing professional. That, when put alongside the generally unstructured education I received in grammar (Hey, it was the ’60s; we didn’t burden ourselves with rules), means that while I have an innate command of the English language, I sometimes struggle to put into words exactly why an error is, in fact, an error.

The curse of being an autodidact is that I can miss things in my self-learning curricula, and that means I often fret about the completeness of my skill sets. The old 80/20 adage states that most of the time (80%), you only use a small portion (20%) of the skill set; conversely, the lion’s share of the skill set is seldom needed. In teaching myself a new skill, it’s relatively easy to learn that first twenty percent, but it is deuced hard to uncover the secrets of the infrequently used remainder.

As you can imagine, these gaps erode my confidence. Big time.

To counter this, I’ve been studying like mad. I quizzed my editor friends about classes and coursework, and received some guidance on what is of value and what might not be. Some suggestions were easier to implement than others.

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