Editing Insecurities + A Poem

I just completed another round of Desert Palm Press editing. I had a good time editing this manuscript, the story was pretty solid, the characters, exciting, and the themes, consistent. Plus it was a fantasy realm, right up my alley. As with every story, some things needed tweaking, but overall it was a very good book. I was happy to send my markups off to the author and publisher.

And yet, I worried, too.

I’m always worried about what the author will say once I send their manuscript back. Will they like my suggestions? Hate I axed out a section? Dismiss all my hard work entirely under the guise of author’s creativity? (Yes, the author always has the last say, but sometimes that comma should just stay where it is, people!) I use Word’s Track Changes feature, so the manuscript itself tends to get completely colorful – red for deletions, blue for insertions, and green for comments and questions.

It’s a silly insecurity, really, because I’ve had positive reviews from all of my clients thus far. And I like doing the work. But a small part of me always thinks what if they hate it this time? I think it’s because so much of editing is subjective, you can give four editors the same manuscript and you’ll get four different ideas in return.

I’ll stop fretting eventually. Until then, here’s a poem:

**

The Red (and Blue and Green) Pen

I use colors to make the ripping
of your story a little more bearable,
The deletions of sections a little less blue, and
reduce the blood-shed tears over my insertion ideas.
(Because I know you could’ve thought of what I suggested,
If you had more time.)

Those lime-green comments are supposed to catch your eye,
make you rethink that one line,
paragraph,
whole entire chapter or even
that ending.

I wear many hats.
I am a character analyzer,
a plotline fixer,
a finder of holes,
of stray commas,
of the incorrect usage of there, their, and they’re.

I don’t mean to hurt your feelings,
slicing up your work
throwing out your baby.

But the way the character is acting is out
of tune with the way you wrote her.
So don’t be sad when I ax
that section out.

It’s for the best.
Really.

My suggestions will make your manuscript better,
the descriptions tighter,
characters more powerful,
and plotlines solid.

You’re the reason I have a job at all.

After all, you wrote the story,
racked up the agonizing hours staring at a computer,
lost time wandering about your world,
and did a damn good job, too.

Trust my multicolored pen,
and we’ll make your work shine.

**

Have a lovely weekend everyone!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Everybody Wants Me

I got accepted into graduate school! Four applications sent out, four acceptances! I can’t believe it, especially after getting rejected last year. It’s just… surreal.

I’ve decided to go to Portland State University – it’s a really good school with a great program, one that’s challenging but beneficial to the students. (Ooligan Press anyone?) Plus, it was my top choice. And I’ve been to Portland before, it’s close to home, and the area might be a good fit for me.

(There are a lot of positives, as you can see.)

But it’s going to be quite the change, shifting from an 8-5 job to going to school. Moving from Alaska to Portland will be insane (but that’ll be a whole different post). The tests, papers… homework! Getting into that mindset again will be clunky at first. I mean after working on novels, short stories and poetry these past two and a half years, my Homework Pen might be a bit rusty…

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But I’ll manage. 

Everyone’s so excited for me. And I’ll be excited, too. For now, though I think I need to let it sink in a little bit, wrap my head around a Master’s of Science in Writing, Book Publishing, about what it’ll mean for me in the next two years, and about the changes I’ll have to adapt to. I need to process it.

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Call him Phil

After some processing (and planning… and more planning) I’ll be excited, too.

Has anyone else had experience with getting a Master’s? How was it for you?

I hope you have a lovely weekend!

Warm regards,
Kellie

Taking Criticism

One of the hardest things about writing (aside from the blank page, of course) is showing your work to others and taking criticism for it. Some people don’t handle it well. I’ve had people get angry and defensive, or flat out leave the group because they can’t handle criticism. They can’t handle other people picking apart scenes that don’t make sense, analyzing characters for a weird action done, or even commenting on strange dialogue.

And I’m not talking about the YUR DUM kind of criticism. The ones who are just there to make others feel badly about themselves, who sit around typing away on the keyboard the most insulting thing they can imagine, and don’t help the writer at all. Those people are useless to the writing craft.

I’m talking about the ones who are actively trying to help make your writing better. Constructive criticism, is the term.

But even constructive criticism, in its nicest form, can be hard to swallow sometimes.

For example, I recently got my comments back from the 2014 Sandy Writing Contest for the first chapter or so of my novel, FINDING HEKATE (unpublished as of yet). I got an extremely good score from one judge, but then scored so low on my second that they produced a third to critique the work. The third judge also gave me a lower score than I would’ve liked.

At first, I was disappointed.

I didn’t want to read anything bad about the work. I had already thrown it through the incinerator, bellowed the ashes away, and polished the remains so much already, after all. How could so much be wrong with it?

But then I sucked up all the damn courage I could muster and read the comments. Maybe something would ring true, after all. Maybe I’d get something out of it.

And, you know what? I did. I actually agree with (most of) them! Yes, some comments are truly off the wall, but others I can see how it would be confusing to a first-time reader. It made me look at my work differently.

And so, into the incinerator once more! It’s sad to rip apart a work, to cut certain scenes out and insert new ones… but it’s also exciting. I can re-visit the world, tweak the characters, and start off with a better bang. Granted it’s only the first chapters, but that’s where you really hook the reader, so I’m glad to re-visit it.

I feel like that’s how you should approach constructive criticism. It’s okay to be disappointed at first. But then look again. Maybe something they say will make you look at your work in a whole different light. I did, and I’m happier for it.

Random Aside: The Living Room is hosting another event tonight – 7pm at Jitters in Eagle River.  If you have some free time on your Friday night, you should come! It’s a different experience every time.

Another Random Aside: Things might be changing around this little blog… you’ve been warned. (And, also, I have to make a final decision.)

Have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie

Cataloging (And Other News)

It’s that time again – cataloging season at Cirque. This is how it all played out:

In two days I combed through over one hundred and fifty emails and processed over three hundred submissions, breaking them into four separate categories (fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art) and documenting the necessary information in our tracking table.

Do you want to see it numerically? Yes. Because I do:

150plus emails + 300plus submissions + Fiction, Non-fiction, Poetry, Art, Other Info + 2 days = hell yes, I am awesome.

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Also – More Awesome News (that I haven’t announced because life got crazy): Desert Palm Press gave me a job as their freelance editor! (The same one Michelle published with.) I’ve edited two manuscripts for them thus far and am scheduled to get another one soon! It’s such a lovely opportunity. There are some really talented authors and editors associated with this company, and the publisher is so nice. Plus, the authors like the suggestions I have for them thus far! It’s been quite fun. 


If you like lesbian fiction, you should check them out. Their newest releases are Dark Horizons and Anything Your Heart Desires!


 

When the ones I’ve helped with come out, I’ll be over the moon. Working with a publisher has been a dream of mine for a few years now… I’m so happy I get the chance. Editor of a published manuscript, who would’ve thought? 

Anyway, time to get back to work.
I hope you have a lovely weekend!
Warm regards,
Kellie