Take Heart! Some Quick Thoughts on Editing

WritingImplements

You might have noticed that I’ve been interviewing a lot of fellow authors lately.  I have several more interviews to come.  I’m finding it a great way to connect with other authors while doing them a solid and helping to promote their work.

I’ve also found something interesting about the interviews, diverse as the interviewees may be.  They all seem to dislike the editing process the most out of all the world of writing.

I can’t help but find this intriguing, because for me, corrections and all, the editing is an exciting thrill ride.

Don’t get me wrong.  When I was a fledgling writer going to critique groups, I felt a high level of cringe when it was my turn on the chopping block.  However, the more practice I’ve had sharing my work with others, the more my ear has sharpened.  I now can hear the difference between feedback from people who are trying to tear me down and people who are so excited about my work that they want to help polish it.

Folks doling out the former just get, “Thanks.  I appreciate your time.” Honestly, though, I can only count three times in 15-20 years when that happened (one of those three times was just someone who was more interested in impressing me with how smart he thought he was and wasn’t necessarily dissing my work directly).  So, those of you who fear editing, take heart.

Folks serving out the latter are the gifts more precious than gold.  They appreciate your work and want to be part of making it shine.  These are the people who will cheer you on and promote your book/poem/short story for you.  They give you fresh eyes for what our eyes have probably already glazed over.

I think I got to the point of recognizing valuably excited editors through the practice of letting others read my barely polished work.  In other words, you won’t develop an ear for valuable feedback unless you experience a lot of it and weigh it for yourself.  If you are just starting out, find people of integrity to give you feedback on what you’ve written.  If in their feedback their words are deliberately cutting, shake the dust from your sandals and keep looking.  Keep your eyes out for people who want to destroy their own writing careers.  Then give them a nice, wide berth.

I’m one of the few writers I know who will not advise you to “develop a thick skin.”  I think our sensitivity as writers is the bread and butter of what we do, and to sell that out just so as not to hurt our pwecious widdle feewings kinda misses the point.  Collect people who will talk to you about what you’ve written.  Delve into their feedback.  Feedback is a gold mine–some dirt, mostly crazy value. The best editors are your best fans!  If you feel called to write, don’t hide it under a bushel basket just because editing feels uncomfortable at first.  If God wants to fan the flame of your lamp, there’ll be no stopping Him.  After all, He says:

I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. –John 16: 33

If you’re writing in His conquering army, relax.  You’ve already won.

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6 comments

  1. All right, have you been hanging out in my head? This post is exactly what I needed to hear. You seem to have a knack for saying the right thing to me! So! Who want to read my writing?

    1. I’m honored to be the brick with which the Holy Spirit hits you. Is it your non-fiction book? I can’t do much more than copy-editing, because I’m not that familiar with the current flow for which non-fiction editors are looking. I do think there is a CWG non-fiction critique group. Are you on Facebook yet? If you’re a paid member of CWG, you can ask to join the private CWG FB group and ask who runs the NF crit group. In the meantime, shoot me an email with some more about your MS!

  2. Seriously, have you been inside my head? Because it sounds like you know exactly what I need to hear (again!). How do you DO that? This post couldn’t have meant more if you had written it directly to me. Thanks for the nudge.

    So, who wants to read my writing?

  3. Man, I love editing. It’s my favorite part of writing. I get to fix things that don’t work and make my story even better. What’s not to like?

    Oh, other than some potentially inappropriate comments, I mean. (One comment I got was that my novella had no point or themes. That hurt.) Otherwise, I quite enjoy the process.

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