“[. . .] when things are not going your way [. . .]”

[My apology for the unaligned text below. My formatting command kept going on to default.]

“. . . The Book is more important than your plans for it. You have to go with what works for The Book ~ if your ideas appear hollow or forced when they are put on paper, chop them, erase them, pulverise them and start again. Don’t whine when things are not going your way, because they are going the right way for The Book, which is more important. The show must go on, and so must The Book.” ~ E.A. Bucchianeri

“Amateur Writers” (Are We Not All So?)

Charles Finch has the following to say about “amateur writers” (the text below is a quote in its entirety):

To me, the single biggest mark of the amateur writer is a sense of hurry. Hurry to finish a manuscript, hurry to edit it, hurry to publish it. It’s definitely possible to write a book in a month, leave it unedited, and watch it go off into the world and be declared a masterpiece. It happens every fifty years or so. For the rest of us, the single greatest ally we have is time. There’s no page of prose in existence that its author can’t improve after it’s been in a drawer for a week. The same is true on the macro level – every time I finish a story or a book, I try to put it away and forget it for as long as I can. When I return, its problems are often so obvious and easy to fix that I’m amazed I ever struggled with them. Amateur writers are usually desperate to be published, as soon as possible. And I understand that feeling – you just want it to start, your career, your next book, whatever. But I wonder how many self-published novels might have had a chance at getting bought, and finding more readers, if their authors had a bit more patience with them?

On Self-Editing (Yes, Again!)

On this Sunday, I leave you with the following extensive statement from Susan Bell, the author of The Artful Edit: On the Practice of Editing Yourself:

An editor doesn’t just read, he reads well, and reading well is a creative, powerful act. The ancients knew this and it frightened them. Mesopotamian society, for instance, did not want great reading from its scribes, only great writing. Scribes had to submit to a curious ruse: they had to downplay their reading skills lest they antagonize their employer. The Attic poet Menander wrote: “those who can read see twice as well.” Ancient autocrats did not want their subjects to see that well. Order relied on obedience, not knowledge and reflection. So even though he was paid to read as much as write messages, the scribe’s title cautiously referred to writing alone (scribere = “to write”); and the symbol for Nisaba, the Mesopotamian goddess of scribes, was not a tablet but a stylus. In his excellent book A History of Reading, Alberto Manguel writes, “It was safer for a scribe to be seen not as one who interpreted information, but who merely recorded it for the public good.”

In their fear of readers, ancients understood something we have forgotten about the magnitude of readership. Reading breeds the power of an independent mind. When we read well, we are thinking hard for ourselves—this is the essence of freedom. It is also the essence of editing. Editors are scribes liberated to not simply record and disseminate information, but think hard about it, interpret, and ultimately, influence it.

 

Writing and Editing, 44

I have posted this quote previously. This claim is something I always cherish in my profession. So, here it is . . . as a reminder to us all who write, creatively of factually,

“Writing without revising is the literary equivalent of waltzing gaily out of the house in your underwear.” ~ Patricia Fuller