“[S]anding a piece of wood, again and again, until it’s perfectly smooth.”

The following text is a quote in its entirety. It articulates a sentiment with which I am in complete agreement. At times, we need to hear / read a common-sense advice from widely recognized authors. So, I introduce (or re-introduce) to you one who in her own words (see below) also happens to be a gracious writer for taking an editor’s work seriously and with trust – as required, but also realizes that professional labor’s value.

“For me, editing is as important as writing. No, probably even more important. I’ve never been able to sit down and write the perfect sentence. I re–write constantly – it’s almost like being a carpenter sanding a piece of wood, again and again, until it’s perfectly smooth. My best and oldest friend is my first editor; she’s ruthless, clever and amazing. I don’t trust anyone like her.”

Andrea Wulf, bestselling author of Invention of Nature, Brother Gardeners, Founding Gardeners, Chasing Venus, and the co-author of This Other Eden.

Self-Editing: Your Own Editing Tips for Yourself

You might have considered this matter before, perhaps after a glance at the flood of online editing tips available to anyone with internet connection and an electronic device to write on. ’15 Best Editing Tips ‘, ‘7 Tips to Become the Best Writer that You Can Be’, ’10 Editing Tips You Cannot Do Without’, and so on, and so on. How one comes up with those numbers is still a mystery to me after my 40+ years of professorial experience. There is no magical checklist when the self-editing or professional editing process is concerned. Language-specific rules, yes. Red alert-areas, AKA areas to avoid, yes. Grammatical security blankets to cuddle with, yes. But a specific number to sum up ‘editing tips’, no.

Enough on this matter! What I would like to leave you with today is a simple request: Put yourself in the shoes of those online editing-tip-distributors (no offense intended, and myself included) and come up with your own “checklist” as far as what YOU would like to see in your written text. Remember to ask yourself the question “why” along the way.

Enjoy the self-empowering process of introspection when it comes to your own writing endeavors!

“Self-Teaching”: Commas

This week, I am going to leave you with a reference to a site; namely: Major Comma Uses.

Some of us have the tendency to use commas excessively, whereas others among us hardly ever resort to them. While we have to keep in mind that the concept of poetic license does indeed exist, it does not give us a license to kill written English.

The site in question also offers a valuable insight into other language areas, such as “Parts of Speech”, “Sentence Structure” and “Usage”, and provides “Exercises”. Should you decide to review them, you could always come back to see if my text here follows the standard rules . . .

Working with an Editor

A scenario: You have determined that your written work should be professionally edited before reaching the public, and have contacted a professional of the field.

A few points for consideration on your behalf should include the following:

  • Your exact thoughts before you have taken the initiative to work with an editor
  • Your primary concerns after your initial contact with an editor
  • Your specific expectations from the editor’s work
  • Your expectations from yourself

Please feel free to share your thoughts on today’s post in the “Comments” section. Thank you for listening. Enjoy your writing endeavors!


Questions . . .

This week, I would like to raise a few questions with you — assuming that you have a writing, saved as a draft with the intent to publish it (in a book, on social media, as a submission to a journal, etc.):

  1. What exactly do you want your written work to accomplish (the target readership and your content’s relevance / relatability)?
  2. Assuming you have a set timeline (self-imposed or otherwise), how much time are you willing to allow yourself for proofreading and / or self-editing as far as surface errors before you make it public?
  3. Will you be going over the draft to determine the extent to which it needs to be improved with specific regard to content delivery?

While these questions come to you in the form of an actual inquiry, their intended purpose is to encourage you to make peace with the vital steps that should be taken before any written work is offered to the public-eye. The aim, as stated on this site before, is to achieve harmony between the three C’s that are integral to and in writing: Clarity ~ Coherence ~ Cohesiveness. Grammatical accuracy and correctness are a given, and as such, are not added here as components of this “clean writing”-formula.




Unscrambling . . . Continued

Continuing with language parts . . . on their way to complete sentences (or questions, if you would so prefer). The same conditions apply as last week’s workout (!) Clarity, coherence and cohesiveness for the final product. As for content and context and the subject, your call!  As before: Compound as well as single sentences have the green light.

Sentence / Question statement parts appear below in the form of nouns, verbs, adjectives / adverbs and / or fillers (a brief insight into these meaning-enhancers was present on last Friday’s post).  Like last week’s scrambled words, each one of also today comes from a murder mystery novel by Lisa Jacksson. I hope you will enjoy this activity.

Toward sentence or question statement #1:

  1. mind; hope
  2. can (either in its indicative or subjunctive mood); think; be; respond; hope (please note that this word also appears above in a different language function)
  3. straight; not; clear (or in its negative form)

Toward sentence or question statement #2:

  1. chance; trouble; focus
  2. shake; decide; have; focus (another red alert); be
  3. but; another; aloof; icy; even; always


Unscrambling . . .

Assuming that we all remember the language parts of focus from a post a while back, a workout with words comes in today. Below, you see a group of sentence elements that await your tender-loving care to be transformed into complete sentences. Any conditions? None other than aiming at clarity, coherence and cohesiveness when the final written product is concerned – with the content and context as well as the subject word reflecting your desire. Compound sentences and single sentences are equally welcomed.

I have grouped the parts separately as far as nouns, verbs, adjectives / adverbs and / or “fillers” (words that have the capacity to enhance meaning of any sentence or question statement, including interrogatives, AKA question words). Each word comes from a murder mystery novel by Lisa Jacksson. I hope you will enjoy this activity.

Toward sentence statement #1:

  1. lamps; night lights; room; shadows; corners; atmosphere
  2. turn; give
  3. low; a few; large; intimate; muted

Toward sentence statement #2:

  1. music; whisper (watch out for this noun as it reappears as a verb also); room; breath; fog; teddy (hint: in the said novel, not as in a Teddy Bear . . .)
  2. whisper; stare; buy
  3. soft; cold; black

Toward sentence statement #3:

  1. edge; thoughts; makeup; whore
  2. realize; be; look; want
  3. closer (or use “farther”, if you would so like); perfect (or “not perfect”); right (or “not right”); now; how; nothing (or “everything”); like (or “unlike”)



A Plea

I have started composing my weekly post a few days back. It was going to be on matters regarding the mechanics of editing as the promise of this site. What work of writing do you have as a draft at the moment? was to be a question I wanted to raise with you. Then, I was going to solicit a brief draft text from anyone who would be willing to share here their initial writing on any subject / theme / focus so that it would be in the public eye (including yours) to work with in terms of adjustments / modifications / rephrasing / etc. Today, however, my heart is somewhere else as is my mind.

Yesterday morning, I came across a blood-freezing news, traveling to my soul from Saudi Arabia – in the form of a horrific act of barbarism to which a 6-years old beautiful boy was subjected. (The related reading will find you, if interested, on the bottom of this page.) The anguish I felt was so overwhelming that I had to write. And I have. It turned into a poem draft in my native tongue. I am sharing it with you in this morning hour, together with its translation into English.

My quest is simple: Please go through my text in whichever language is familiar to you, bearing in mind that this draft has been created under high emotions of lament, with my spirit having met a violent turbulence of suffering. Once you do, indulge me with your input as to the outcome of this poetic draft. Harsh criticisms will be welcomed in the same passionate embrace as their mild counterparts. Thank you for listening.

nasıl kıydılar sana, masum bebek
Şii misin, Sünni misin ne demek
kırık camla boynunu bıçaklamış
iki ayaklı o mahlûk defalarca
o her yanı öpülesi güzel başını
koparmış kim bilir ne kadar süren
yürek kaldırmayan işkencenden sonra
bir de çaresizliğinin vahşeti içinde
akıl almaz bir melek katliamı
yaşayan anneciğinin çığlıkları altında

lânet olsun senin din anlayışına, ey yetişkin mahluk
lanet olsun senin gibi iki ayaklı hayvanlara
lanet olsun taksi kullanabilen
sürüngenden beter
hiç yaşamamış olsa
tibbi bir deneye yararı olabilecek
o ruhtan yoksun lanet olası varlığına

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 2.11.2019

Bugün Suudi Arabistanda bir taksi şoförü tarafından katledilen 6 yaşındaki minik meleğin anısına

In honor of Zakariya al-Jaber, 6 years old, who was brutally murdered in Saudi Arabia for being a Shiite Muslim. My anguish at this news was so overwhelming that I only could write a few words in my native tongue. May such atrocities never come on to the path of another little angel. Anywhere. In the notoriously inhumane Saudi Arabia, in particular.

how did they have the heart to do this to you, oh you innocent baby
why on earth did it matter whether you were a Sunni or a Shii’te
that two-legged creature is said to have butchered you
stabbing you repeatedly with a shard on your neck
until he managed to behead you following an unknown period of time
throughout which you were left to suffer unbearable pains
under the vain screams of helplessness of your mother’s anguish

may curses be upon your way to religious beliefs, you grown up creature
may curses be upon those you-alike animals
may curses be upon your capacity to drive a cab
may curses be upon you, you lower-than-a-reptile being
which, had it not lived, might have been some service
to the medicinal research in some far-stretched way
may curses be upon your being that is void of a soul

“Saudi Arabia: Boy beheaded [. . .]”


Content Editing

The following text comes to you from the Preface of my own manuscript. As I emphasize time and again, a writing always leaves room for improvement. In specific terms, we must seek clarity, coherence and cohesiveness in our written words. As for sophistication in diction and content, any text can be improved above and beyond its initially conceived version. How else can the following paragraph be formulated in order to lend it more of the three Cs and / or a more sophisticated flair? 

In our human existence, there is one core reality: We are born, we live, and then we die. Throughout that in-between-phase, we hope that our lives have mattered to our beloveds. It is the hope for permanence; that we live on beyond our death. This book is my attempt to seek such permanent memory for my loved ones. At the same time, it is my tribute to those beloveds  who are no longer with me. It is my way of proving to myself that their lives mattered and continue to matter (from: Once upon a Time in Turkey, a short story collection, pending).