March – 2017
Spring is on its way, even though it may look as though we will be trapped in winter forever. If you keep a garden, you are likely ordering seeds and plants to put in it, and thinking about warm, sunny days. Winter really will come to an end.
I believe that the winter of my illness is coming to an end. Since last summer, I have been having trouble walking and standing up. The doctors call it myositis, and it has been a recurring problem for me, one that I do not enjoy talking about. However, this experience with it has spurred me on to work on my books; getting them into print, and making audio books of them, to increase their market value. The first book on the pipeline; It is Never a Good Idea to Call Mother, is falling into place, though the process is taking longer than I would have liked. It often is that way. The more you see to fix and improve, the more you will see to fix and improve. It is a lovely feeling, when I know, after hours and hours of work, that one more page is ready to show.
I have spent years learning to edit, writing both for myself and for other people — fixing, changing, putting things in order, checking back with the author to make sure I understood exactly what he was attempting to say, and making sure I understood it perfectly, so that I could express it clearly for his readers.
The deep sort of editing I have been doing for It is Never a Good Idea to Call Mother could be compared to winter, in the process of writing a book. If we consider spring to be the time of bright exuberance, when ideas flow, and the story evolves like an unruly vine that might take off in any direction. Then summer would be the time of plodding through, setting down the ideas, one after the other, till they form a cohesive whole. And fall would be the time of completion. That is when you write the final pages, before putting the manuscript aside to work on a different project, before taking it up again for its winter work.
Winter then, is the time when the author’s energy, instead of flowing out, as in the spring, flows inward. It flows back to the center. It is the time when you assess and reassess the structure and tempo of your novel. Where is your story strong and good, and what should be removed, as it does not add to the impact of your story? Then, there are those sections that are necessary to your story, but they need to be vastly improved, so that your words are clear, compelling your readers to want to see what happens next. These are the things you look for as you review your story, page-by-page, word-by-word, till it all says exactly what it needs to say.
Many novice writers consider editing to be superfluous. After all, they do know how to speak and write English. Didn’t they spend years in school, learning how to do just that? Aren’t their words precious and perfect, as they flow from their minds and out through their fingers? They feel as though every word had been engraved on tablets of stone, and that the only editing it may need would be in a few points of punctuation, and perhaps some spelling.
Experienced writers know they must revise their work many times over, in order to make sure that not only is everything said that needs to be said, but that all extraneous words and ideas have been removed. The experienced writer knows that there is no such thing as a good story or a bad story. There are only well told stories and poorly told stories. These people spend hours going over their work and then they may present it to a variety of readers, friends and members of their families, as well as professional editors. They do this in order to make sure their ideas are in order, each following the one before it, in a logical fashion and with a sense of inevitability — before it goes to the publisher. This is doubly important when they are self publishing, as so many people are today.
Sometimes, the best way to learn what an editor does is to sit down with someone else’ work and make the corrections you believe should be made, so that it reads smoothly. When you have seen and corrected someone else’ mistakes, it is a lot easier to see your own.
Keep on writing, and give me a call, at (508) 308-4872. Writing is Good!