The Importance of an Editing Buddy (or Five!)

>> Monday, September 29, 2008

Today I realized again how important it is to have people who can critique and edit your writing. I am so thankful for my friend, Morgan, who has been both gracious and ruthless enough to edit some of my recent work. But we shouldn't let just anyone critique our writing. There are certain traits that I have found to be helpful in an editing buddy, and not every person has them.

What should you look for in an editing buddy?

1. Honesty. If you can't count on her honest opinion, no matter what it is, you will never receive any useful feedback. Without that, you will never improve any of your writing. We writers tend to become attached to certain characters or phrases we've written, and sometimes they just aren't necessary. We need someone to hand us the scalpel and tell us where to cut or operate, not let us live in an unrealistic world of perfection when it comes to our writing. Even if we write well, we can always write better.

2. Tact. This is closely related to the above point. While it is good to be honest about one's opinion, you want to choose an editing buddy that you won't get in an argument with every time you hand them work to critique. Let's face it: you won't be hurrying to give them more, if they deliver sharp diatribes about every single thing you've written, or just downright insult your writing. You want an editing buddy who can be both harsh and compassionate--someone who will get on to you about fixing mistakes, but also encourages you to do well and cheers with you when you get things right.

3. Decent Knowledge of the Essentials. This one should be obvious, but it needs to be said. Your Aunt Sally, who can barely spell, or your Cousin Johnny who specializes in run on sentences, are not the people you should choose to edit your work. An editing buddy should have a working knowledge of basic grammar, punctuation, and spelling. He does not have to be perfect (who is?), but the closer the better.

I will post the concluding part of this article soon. It will include five more traits, for a total of eight ideal traits in an editor. For now, I must attend my daughter.

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Echoing A Recent Post of Mine...

>> Friday, September 26, 2008

Here is a good article I found that reiterates my point about making the time to write. Writing must be a priority (not necessarily THE priority, but a priority), or you will never get anywhere with it. Writers write. So many people don't seem to understand this. If we can sit in front of our TVs for 20+ minutes a day, we can find the time to write. Maybe instead of wasting so much of our time, we should manage it better.

Find Time to Write Your Novel
Finding the time to write your novel can be a challenge in today's always-on work environment. See how published novelist Jean Shields Fleming balances her creative life and her professional life--and how you can, too.
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In college, I would read books for pleasure or write in 5 or 10 minute chunks before or between classes. It wasn't a lot, but at least I accomplished something. And it really piles up over the course of a day, much less a week.

Stop the excuses. Just write. Even if it's "horrible," it's something. You can always rework it later, or throw it out altogether. Sometimes we just have to wade through the muck, the bad writing, before we can accomplish any good writing.

Really, that's the metaphor for a writer's whole career, really. Because there's always something more to improve.

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How's This Blog Working Out For You?

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What do you think of it? Is it too hard on the eyes? I thought my last one was a little difficult on the eyes, but I wonder now if this one is worse, though there are elements about it that I like.

Let me know what you think.

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What Being a Writer Really Means

Life as a writer is anything but the easy, get-rich-and-make-lots-of-money fantasy that so many people think it is. Writing is hard work. You have to write even when you don't feel like it. Writing must be a priority. You must make time for it. And those who like to sit around and talk about writing rarely do much writing at all. Some of them even complain that they have no time to write.

Well, guess what, my friends? Stop talking about writing. Stop complaining about having no time. Make time. Write! (That's an order, you hear me?)

I have noticed that if I do not make time for my writing, I become very nasty to be around. I am moody, tense, snap at the littlest things. Life is not pleasant for my husband, and I am not nearly as patient with my little daughter, if I go too long without writing. This is exactly what has happened to me in the last few days.

Which is why I have been forcing myself to edit and write during my daughter's nap. I don't want to edit. I'm finding it difficult to concentrate, and I feel almost bored with it, which is unusual for me. Normally I am alert and excited about editing, because it means I am almost done with a project. Instead, I feel lackluster, perhaps because I am tired. Or maybe because it looks as if it will be hard to lower my word count for this story right now.

But I am editing anyway. Because I need to. Even if it means losing a little of the little sleep I seem to get as it is. Writing needs to be a priority in my life, and it needs to be a priority in yours, too. So write! And

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NaNoWriMo On My Mind...

>> Monday, September 22, 2008

I have already begun trying to generate some novel ideas for Nanowrimo in November. I don't feel that I yet have a project that I am enthusiastic about. I have some nice ideas, but none of them are coming together into an actual working plot yet. I'm trying to decide whether to write a science fiction, which I've never done before, another fantasy, which I tend to write the most, a modern day vampire story, or a general fiction story.

I don't have a solid idea for my science fiction story. I'm toying with the idea of time travel, wherein people can travel into the future, but not into the past (as current scientific theory holds). This would mean that, once in the future, my characters wouldn't be able to leave and go back to their time, which would be the past, by that point. But I'm not sold on this yet. My other idea is a sci-fi about some kind of war over a planet's natural resources. The warring factions think it's uninhabited and ripe for the taking, but there's actually intelligent life on the planet, and that later complicates things.

For my modern day vampire story, I intend to re-vamp (pun intended) vampires in a way. I found some interesting things during all my research for the vampire cows story, and I think it would make an interesting story, if I wrote about psychic vampires, who feed off of people's energy, not necessarily their blood.

My general fiction idea isn't developed enough for me to feel comfortable talking about it yet. The other alternative I've thought about is to combine my modern day vampire ideas with some of my sci-fi ideas. Maybe a genetic experiment goes wrong, and scientists accidentally create human vampires, and the story chronicles the effects of that. I don't know.

I think my preparations for Nanowrimo were easier last year, when I already had a solid story idea and notes for November far ahead of time.

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And I Didn't Even Give Myself Carpal Tunnel.

>> Friday, September 19, 2008

I just finished typing up my story in its entirety. I'm surprised it didn't take more than a couple of days, considering I can only work on it during my daughter's naptime (and considering she often doesn't cooperate with the whole napping thing, despite a regular routine). Now I can print out a copy and begin some preliminary editing.

Yesterday I wrote a little fresh material on my Mer novel, which I have now given a title (finally). I have decided to call it Anemone's Song. It will probably be changed if it ever gets published, but oh well. This is a fine working title for now. I don't totally hate it, or find it corny, like my other list of title ideas that I've been kicking around for a while.

I'm hoping to get some more work on my Mer novel done before Nanowrimo, but I doubt I'll finish it up by then. What may happen is that I switch from my new Nanowrimo project at the end of November to Anemone's Song on the first day of December, or NaNoFiMo (National Novel Finishing Month). Just for a change of pace. November really takes it out of you. Last year, I took a long sabbatical from writing after it. My husband calls it a long, drawn out writer's marathon.

He's right. But I did it.

Here's to hoping I manage to finish this year. It's looking bleak, but I'm clinging to hope.

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Reveling In All Its Gory Glory!

>> Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Eeeee! Finished, finished, finished! My daughter actually cooperated by sleeping long enough this afternoon for me to complete the story! Now I'm wondering just how far I went beyond the word count. I'm a bit scared to find out.

Onward to feverishly typing it up and pulling out my hair while editing...

...or not.

I'm sick. I actually kind of like editing, most of the time.

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It's So Close I Can Smell It...

...and I'm salivating with the promise of victory on the horizon. I'm almost finished with my short story. I just need to finish up the last scene or so, and I can begin editing it. I'm way over word count for the story competition, I just know it. But, I've done much worse on college papers and somehow managed to trim them down to limit. The papers always came out so much the better, somehow. That's why I consider it a good sign when I go over my word limit. Does anyone else ever feel this way, or am I just crazy?

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I Should Never Go Into Government...

>> Thursday, September 11, 2008

...because I can't even run a household that well.

My husband has a new work schedule. It's very similar to his old schedule (which has crazy, weird hours), except that he works four days out of the week for ten hours, instead of five days out of the week for eight hours (this excludes the DJing he does on the weekends). This makes it harder to get things done, because we have to try to get our shopping, laundry, etc. all done on one day of the week (unless he happens to have the weekend open, but since it's busy season for DJing right now, that's unlikely). It also means I have to take up the slack on cooking again since he has to leave much earlier in the mornings.

Don't get me wrong. I don't mind cooking. I really like it. Yet it's hard to try to fit cooking, dishes, writing, etc., into the evening when/if my baby decides to wake up every couple of hours, or if she won't go to sleep at her normal bedtime. On the whole, it makes life a little frustrating right now. More than a week went by where I didn't do any writing at all, really, and I started to get really tense and snappish because of it.

Ever know that feeling?

I did manage to do some writing last night. I really want to finish this short story soon, though. I feel like it's been dragging out long enough, due to my unpredictable writing schedule. I don't know how on earth I'll do Nanowrimo this year. I really don't.

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Slowly, Slowly, Comes the Progress.

>> Saturday, September 6, 2008

It has been a busy week. My sister and my nephew have been in town, and I have been visiting with them several days of this week. Between that and caring for the baby, I have only managed minimal writing this week. However, I am taking advantage of the situation to ask my sister questions about cows and other general animal questions as they become pertinent to my story.

I believe I am halfway finished with my story. I look forward to completing it and turning my attention toward my Mer novel again. Hopefully I can work on that some more before Nanowrimo.

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