Related Posts Widget for Blogs by LinkWithin

Edit me? No way!

Very new writers can get extremely upset when someone has the temerity to edit their work. If this still describes your own reaction to your editor — it's a symptom of your newness to the trade of the wordsmith. Being proud of your work is good; having faith in yourself is crucial. Without the enthusiasm to write in the first place, plus the artist's pride in achievement, and a solid faith in one's abilities, no book would never be finished; or, if it was, it would certainly never be submitted.

However, many (new) writers take these feelings of pride and faith to such extremes that they take umbrage at editing. The changes made to the work (sometimes called 'corrections' ... which is where a good part of the offence is given, and received!) are seen as unnecessary, and insulting to one's talent.

The professional perspective develops later. Sometimes much later. One realizes that words are not engraved in gold, nor set in stone. Prose is a fluid which, like a stream, has eddies, currents, flow-patterns, and like water it can get deep, murky, muddy — stagnant and difficult to swallow.

The inescapable fact is that the writer lives and breathes the work while writing. Think of yourself as a lungfish, equally capable of breathing the water as of breathing air. Immersed in the work, filled with its momentum and romancing your characters, you're so close to your writing, the 'boiled frog syndrome' actually does happen!

The 'boiled frog syndrome' is a model for change in any environment; in fact, humans are living in the results of it, with our climatic breakdown. The theory goes that if you put a frog in a pot of cold water and heated the water very slowly, the poor, dumb amphibian would get so used to the gradual increase in temperature, he never would jump out. He'd sit there and cook. You see the results of this all around us on this planet, on a global scale. On a local scale, it also means you can get very, very 'close' to your own work. Too close to 'see the woods for the trees,' to use the old cliche!

Then a fresh pair of eyeballs looks at the work. An editor. The 'fun' begins, and if you're a very new writer you can feel slighted, insulted, angry, especially of the editor is highly experienced and utterly insensitive, and makes every change (correction) at one time, so the manuscript seems to have been scribbled all over with a red pen. You might feel like a kid in a classroom again; if your school years were less than pleasant, you might shudder.

Some editors are insensitive. Some are emotionally dense. Others are ruthless: they actually want to scare off newbies! It's a 'survival of the fittest' environment. If you have what it takes, you'll be back in a few years, a little older and infinitely wiser, with a skill suite that is actually ready to propel you into the professional writing arena.

But you can take a shortcut, skip those years. The trail which diverges in this particular forest entails a shift in your way of thinking. Develop the 'mindset' of the professional now, rather than in ten years' time. Learn to see your work through the eyes of the editor, reader or critic, rather than your own eyes. Even if you dislike being edited, as few of us do, (and if you take a dim view of the editor as a person!) you can still pick his or her brains. Learn from them. Get your revenge by becoming the best.

The process begins with an epiphany on your own part: you must admit you have a lot to learn. The instant you make this confession to yourself, you're moving forward. You could call this 'right thinking,' or 'right attitude.' It's very Buddhist. Lose the ego, become the empty vessel ready to be filled with the wisdom others have spent half a lifetime gathering, and you can zoom forward.

So, why is editing necessary? Who should do it — and when? Click here to learn more about what a professional edit entails, and why it can take some time.)

No comments:

Post a Comment

The commercial break ... there has to be a commercial break!