One or two in the mist

Had a flurry of writing over the Easter period and beyond for some devotions I was trying to get through and published. Those ones were safely rejected I think all of them, but I am not counting, so I have an idea there is one or two that are on their list to publish at some stage. Wait for the cheque in the post. The rejections when they come don’t hurt as much as they used to. I am not counting.

A genre filled with life

When is the abundant genre appropriate to write today? Perhaps not these days. But what about past days? Future days? Sometime ago in a person’s life? What was the narrative? Somehow, what is it? The abundant genre is about blessings, full of blessings, over filled with blessings. Even those blessings in disguise…hidden ones, silent ones, quiet ones. Still filled ones. Even goodness.

Writing in anger

A reviewer assumed a screenwriter/director was driven by anger to make a work, but being driven by this emotion seems a stretch too far. How does one manage that emotion while working with it? Wouldn’t anger get out of control and interfere with the person doing the work, effectively disabling the person from thinking straight?

I guess anger in writing can smolder underneath, under layers one has built up to protect oneself from exposing the driving, motivating force behind a work or works.

The problem with writing in anger is that anger may be seen in how one treats the subject they are irritated about. An exaggerated treatment may reveal a bias towards a certain institution, but it isn’t the way it is. This is when things become unfair.

I think it is best to avoid those writings that are driven by the emotion of anger. There are other emotions to write with, and these can be negative ones. For me at least, anger is detrimental to getting on doing the work properly.

In the end one may be misrepresenting something or some group entirely and perhaps regret doing so afterwards.

One word says it

As I am progressing my sentence, and stuck for the right word, I try and use two words. Why use two words when I could use one? Two words tries to expand on the meaning in my mind — but it sounds clumsy and awkward. It just does not flow well. One word may say it much better. Just got to find the right word. That’s where words with similar meanings come in (synonyms), since one of those words may just say it better than two.  I google for a synonym and  I find the right word that replaces the two words that just did not sound right.

Writing reflections is, well, a reflective exercise

I’ve been working on a book of reflections based on my readings of the Gospel of Mark. The gospel is from the Bible and I am aware of being accurate to the text and not saying something myself in my writings that was not intended by the writer of the gospel. But I am writing reflections and this genre is not explaining or expounding a text academically as one would when deeply examining what the author was saying. Reflections are simply hopefully effectively relaying my thoughts about what I read…meaning it is not a thesis on the text or a critique but a reflection on the text itself. I reflect from a devotional basis so it is not a reflective critique which has a soft edge.

I don’t know if one can do reflections from any kind of text, but I think copyright issues are the barrier to a writer taking any printed text and writing a book of reflections on it, although I don’t know. I know that there is a whole genre of devotional writing that uses the Bible but does not copy it. I know I am not doing anything wrong in using the Bible as a basis for a book of reflections, unless everyone who was writing devotions from the Bible has got it wrong. It is only wrong if copying the Bible exactly as it is for a profit, without permission; and copying it even without wanting to make a profit or commercial gain.

Copying 1000 Bible verses as they are written is okay with some Bible publishers, without seeking permission. It just depends on each Bible publication policy which is at the front of each Bible. Always check copyright notices at the front of each book you may want to copy in some way. There it will explain what one can legally do or not do with that particular book. And get a grasp of copyright law. Books are legally well protected from people trying to illegally copy them, but the copyright notice at the front of the book will inform of any leniencies, if any, and what you can do if you want to use a portion of the book in some capacity.

So far, my reflections have taken up one small exercise book, which I completed this week. For the rest of the week in terms of reflective writing, I just felt to blob, as if I have done enough for a little while in that genre or until I get my reflective writing mojo back.

The genre may choose you

I’ve been thinking. Of what use is a writer? When you reach a certain age, you look for a job or embark on a career and writing seems everywhere. When I look at this writing world, there are needs for newsletter writers, technical writers, and so on. A few will make money from creative writing and maybe even a living, be that screenwriting, novel writing and short short story writing, as well as poetry. Of what use is a writer? It seems what is missing now is the motive, the purpose, the over riding theme of why one wants to write. When I knew my reason for being it seemed to choose the genre. When the genre was “chosen” (or more likely drawn into), of what use is a writer when there are just a few publishing possibilities in that genre? What if one got in?

Thinking before writing

Am thinking is my favorite hashtag. Because when I am thinking I am thinking about how I can move forward, improve, or make something such as my writing better. A think tank can be the before writing process. Actual writing follows thinking or at other times a healthy dose of inspiration. This week I have been thinking. Thinking about what’s next to write. The devotion? Or the project? Or the devotional project? How will I write it? Would it work? We’ll see.

The writing life is fluid

Writing is never over. Even the so-called “off-seasons” have a purpose, to enjoy and do well, and to lead one into the next stage. One does not always have to be successful, as each stage has a uniqueness of its own.

At least that is how I think of it, in my experience. Live, learn, and develop (no one has ever made it) and move on to the next phase, consciously aware of the moving on or not.

The writing life can be built on stages or phases. One is in one stage then moves on to the next. Maybe this is not every writer’s experience, but I would say it has an element of truth in mine.

Sometimes, I did not know what stage or phase I was in, as the writing life takes over. But other times, one does know the phase and aims to do it like one would do a job, before moving on…

The writing life is never over.

The solitude of the writer

I have had experience on my side, publishing credits, and an eye to improve for that next piece and the one after that and the one after that…until the writer reaches stuff to his or her eye. Then there are more things the writer may need to improve on. Later he starts thinking, I can relax. He’s done his best and whatever the publisher thinks, he’s always done his best. But, who really cares? Apparently, people do. 

Writing the relatable human side of characters

How can a writer let humanity flow in their stories? How does a writer share the human touch that the readers need? If people are not relating to you humanly, there may be something missing in the relationship for them. Therefore, the “human side” must naturally flow when one is only using words in writing. It is about being real and transparent. Being human is being real to the core (not having to show that all the time). Ideally, I am not pretending to be human for the sake of getting published (it won’t work and the editor will notice), but to be honest, while sharing those relatable human traits (liking coffee at 7AM) that make the reader relate while the emotional pull makes them empathize with somebody real.

Learning from rejection of writing

My devotion was written, edited, submitted, now in process of a month’s evaluation by the editors, then I am notified of its status. Writing it was a bit of a labor, even at 300 words. It’s just getting it right that counts even with good material — I do not take for granted getting a piece rejected these days, after several set-backs where my work, which I thought was good, was rejected.

It’s in the post. Surprise!

Photo by Kristin Vogt on Pexels.com

Memory lane: Circa, 2017. Judson Press sent me a copy of the winter issue of The Secret Place which has one of my devotions in it. Yet, whatever the season, be it winter or summer, I’m pleased my article’s there, winter or summer. But it will be read in the North American winter. Why do I attract the North American winter? Surprise!

Commitment is more than ambition

One of things a publisher will want, I think, is commitment, and not serving the writer’s ambition first and foremost. This commitment, I think, must extend to a writer’s readers, so that even if a writer is posting blog pieces all the time and is not publishing the book, but shows a sincere commitment to their readers, is doing a better thing than someone who is not even making an effort with their readers, but has published the book. The book is always where the writer’s ambition lies, but the reader is the generous soul who makes an effort to connect with the writer and should at least be acknowledged if not put on a pedestal.

The mentor worth remembering

Then I am reminded, in the throes of writing a piece frantically. Remember the lesson? The one in the classroom? All those years ago? It felt like the lesson Luke Skywalker had to learn in the cave and correct his “inner demon”. What a crock. Gotta correct my inner demon? Nah. Yes, I remember that scene now. Just a movie scene. It was like Indiana Jones understanding something for the first time. But, for me, it was understanding something more than one time. I have been recalling it more often than usual. The wise words. The word that offers guidance the right way. So, when I am writing something, I remember the mentor’s words and apply it where appropriate. My affection goes out to the mentor: your guidance in writing helps, I think. Indeed, it does…

Working on yourself, not some other writer

Someone I did not know told me I was doing a great job writing for such and such a publisher. I felt chuffed by the remark and a swell of pride came. I went away from the person with a lighter step and a bigger heart.

That evening as I watched the news on television, I believed I was a better writer than the reporter I saw on the evening programme. The questions he posed were weak, I thought, and I thought of a better one. Perhaps he should use it. He could have enhanced the whole interview. Then, I recalled the comment the man made about my great reporting.

If this seems to be pride, technically it is not. I was not a better writer than the journalist on TV. It just means I thought of a better question that sounded good to me. It can add to something I am working on, not add to someone else’s work.

Persevering with the poem that’s a labor of love

Putting the much loved poem on the back burner was the logical next step. This after desperately searching for a suitable publisher for it, but realizing there isn’t one, yet. Beforehand, he was going to place it on his blog. He had, at least, decided he would work on finding a publisher for it, and would continue that search at a later date.

Persevering in the face of successful others

“I have two websites I use for information on publishing,” said the fledging writer to her inquisitive hearer. She was ashamed of being a fledging in front of this successful person, but thought that with possibility, possibility should never die and keep her going, until it reached fruition, with the possible becoming more than probable, and turning her notion into something real.

Older writers keep on going

The musing said to the aspiring novelist, the novelist was getting no younger:

Hope the younger ones do well for the traditional publishers that are still going. Depending on what they would write for them. Nothing short than…As for you, you may just find something else. Something better. So, for you, I will keep the possibility of ‘afresh’ avenues open. But keep knocking on the door, from time to time.

Compelling choices for characters

In storytelling class, the lecturer may discuss the concept of compelling choice. For these lecturers, compelling choice is the pivot on which the plot turns in the classical story structure. The main character faces dilemmas at various points and has a choice between two or, even better, more choices of action, but the character chooses one way because the choice compels more than the other possibilities.

Real life is faced with such challenges as well at all sorts of levels. I wish that in real life we would always make the best choices, but in stories a character is a character with its own personality, beliefs and ways of doing things. It’s just that some choices compel the protagonist more than others. This is good material for the writer. The character can make authentic choices because one choice was more compelling that the other possibilities. In real life this can be as difficult as choosing the most unselfish course of action.

Self-improvement for the writer

Improve! Speak for yourself, someone says! Yes, I aim to, maybe you will, too. We’re all trying…Take the opportunity to improve your work by looking at your old articles, stories, and seeing if anything could do with a tweak or major revision. Any things you learn in your revising will spill into your current work and only improve it–and at a quicker speed.

Writers communicate internationally

Wisecracker: So you read those Indian romance poems in English. They’re English romances, then.

Writer: It was a translation into English. Translation. Get it?

Humbled wisecracker: Pretty accurate, then. I mean, extremely accurate.

Writer: You got it. You better take a class, though.

Humbled wisecracker: Yes, I should.

Writer: On translation.

Romance stories from India

Reading some of the romantic poems and literature that comes out of India, I saw a lot of heart brokenness in the stories, when one’s sweetheart leaves. It then occurred to me that these stories reveal much tender feeling towards love and romance. They way that the love wasn’t tossed into the dirt to be trampled over or thrown into the ocean with a million fishes eager to eat it up. I found the sensibility, the sense that love is treated tenderly, better than many romances that get produced in the English language.

The artist’s mind’s eye

In the throes of life, an artist happens to be picturing something in their mind, and wishes to translate that to paper. It may have arrived ‘through the ceiling’ as it was; or in the other words it just popped into their mind. It could come from observation of the real world; a landscape, a person; a thing. But like a camera the artist has a snap shot in their mind of something they want to put onto canvas or in a novel.

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The stimulus of ideas

One idea can produce two ideas, but they both take a different slant, that’s the difference. For example, take this premise, as comedy for a Hollywood blockbuster that would get one star from the critics, depending on how well it was done, the potential to be a bomb.

A man spent ten years of his life around a lot of people and got so sick of them that he decided to isolate himself from people because he enjoyed the other half of his personality better and settles down with him, but his friend tries to get him back into socializing with people and to see the good side of humanity. In the end, he comes around to see the good side. That’s a silly comedy. But I can change the ending and the whole tone of the idea to sound like an arty drama. In the end the person stays away from people for the rest of his life and there is no seeing the good side. That’s a German drama. I would write neither.

Lessons of rejection: belief

Rejection can be a task master making you try harder, be different, fit in, conform, and do what will make you feel accepted. In writing, this may make the writer try to perform. But, acceptance is another story. If your story is accepted as is, for what it is, and published just as it is, then you are blessed. You don’t have to do anything different or more to be accepted by a publisher. But what happens if some kind of work of yours gets continually rejected? Maybe you don’t know why you are writing something and even if you did and got rejected it wouldn’t matter–because you know why you are doing it.

Personally, I have found the key is to find security in why I am writing something, then any amount of rejection won’t matter. It’s the harder path to come to realize why I want to write something, but the one which says, I don’t have to write in this another way, because I know why I am writing this. Who cares about rejection!

Nebulous writing has a point

Nebulous writing is without a plan, a shape, a design. Just write. With the thought in the back of the head: think about where this piece, this novel, this screenplay is going.

Happens at some stage in a writing career. The fluid recording of thoughts, typed, or on paper, translated into something of a story, a piece, an article, a personal experience related, into a script of some important story.

In the end, nebulous writing isn’t nebulous at all, for all writing must go somewhere.

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Editing to personal satisfaction

Whatever you do do it well-

Walt Disney

I’d like to avoid the difficult editing stages of polishing a piece of writing, so I may delay doing it, even so ending up having to do it, because I just gotta. It is thinking about what I want out of the piece that motivates me to “rise up” mentally and take the bull to the horns as they say. Without a good polish, I am left with regret and sorrow over a piece that could have been so much better with a polish. Then, there’s someone saying, “it’s all good” which makes me feel better, but not reassured. To be reassured is knowing that the piece is good in my own mind–but thanks for the encouragement, very much. Keep on polishing until satisfied.

Understanding the nuances of the language

A way to be understood if someone cannot distinguish your speech. Say one is asking another person what spread she wants on her toast. One may say, “Do you want cheese?” The other person cannot distinguish the word cheese. They say, “Weeze?” To be understood, the first person says, “The mouse likes cheese.” The other person understands when you bring a context. Everyone knows mice like cheese! “Oh, you said cheese. No, I’ll have peanut butter.”

Introspective writer’s moments

They tell you to never look back. It just stifles the present. In writing, it makes one think of the negative points of one’s writing. I wish I had done it better one moans. However, I do not mind looking back at what I have written in the past if just for the curiosity of rediscovering how my older work sounded.

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Not letting writing get to your head

Track record of successes, and bragging rights, is, for me, not important; I do not bond with it or like. For me, it is about doing the job and let the others watch and make their own judgments. I would not care. If it succeeds in a big way, I am pleased, but let the work speak for itself. Writing is not about the glory and neither is life.

The ever learning writer

I always intend on doing a good if not great job, something that I can be proud of, or at least somewhat proud of by my standards. Something that comes out in the wash is not good enough for me, but something that is given a thorough treatment comes out better for ware. I don’t like to be so conscientious, as if conscientious is uncool, but I follow my instinct to add layers of polish. Isn’t this what writers are told to do? 

Choosing the better ones

Over a week, I wrote five devotions, which gave me a choice of which ones to submit to the editor. The first two I wrote were the right ones this time. I learnt once again , if that makes sense, that If I only have two devotions to choose from (two was the number I was assigned) I would question if those two were good enough to submit and could I have written another one better. So, having a few up my sleeve takes the pressure off. I can choose from four or five to get the sense of the best and work on the others later.

In the habit of writing well

There are the usual habits of the writer, but for me one of the most important one is “waste not, want not”. Life can be a garbage can at times, in that things gets thrown around and thrown out. The ideal is not to waste anything. As a writer, this means to not waste a word, a paragraph, and idea, that may be of use somehow, somewhere. Of course, I fall short in executing this 100 per-cent, but the principle is something I want to abide by, from what’s in my room, to the cupboard, generally speaking. Waste not, want not also means that anything I buy is used economically, from food, to CD’s.

A discipline of writing

Writing foundations—the core values—and the silent voice they come through. At other times, the abstract nature of writing takes over everything else. It is a piece of artistic license drowning out any other concerns. Should I go back and edit, or let it be? That would be the question I ask, if my writing hand got away with me.

Is this all?

In the maelstrom of bustling street-life, I am unperturbed,

Content in my way and yours

But we are all going the same direction.

Going and going on, never-ending,

Journey, stops and starts

Every day the same.

This is the life I have come to see, and love.

What about the ever-increasing void?

Seen in the stress in my voice? As I lay out my plan before you.

I saw an opening in the cracks through the skies

Of a shine that was coming through,

Promising me something more,

I wanted to catch and embrace it,

But it slowly drifted upward more

Until I couldn’t see it.

And again, we took to the streets,

To meaningfully engage the existence that we brought.

The opportunity to begin again,

Lately more than a puff of smoke from that old engine of mine.

Imaginatively using irony

Sometimes, slight sense of irony in a sentence can add color to what would be a pedestrian line of writing and irony can brighten an otherwise flawed expression. It’s simply about the “art of writing” when one sketches art in a piece that seems flawed.

Art of writing may be fused throughout the whole, ordinary, unexceptional flawed piece, to give it an air of mystery and aloofness. It may be flawed prose in one sense, but how the piece is structured or designed gives an illusion of art through each line.

Becoming the author – is one ready?

There’s always in the back of the mind of a writer of shorter material the time when he’ll be an author and gets the book contract. But does one really want to do that? The book signings, the author meet and greets, the interviews…the general busyness over your book? And does the writer really like reading books anyhow, the longer stuff that is? Can a writer be satisfied with the niche he already has and make the most of it, as much as possible? And not put all his eggs in the one writing basket?

What will the author do next?

The humble writer or artist and filmmaker for that matter, may shy away from publicity or at least attempt to. But, underneath, there may be a liking to the question, what will he do next? Will it be as good or better than the last thing they made? That’s when a writer and artist gets a little inkling they have made it. But what will be next? A widely received disappointment? After the artist has gained acceptance?

The art in it all

The writer and the artist are names that can be used interchangeably, in terms of function– the purpose is to create, using kinds of media and materials–and in style–to ‘stylize’ and place, for an effect, which can include journalism, in terms of how elements of art are embedded in journalism, such as flow.

Merely interesting?

When an article is merely interesting. If its my article, I deny it. Because I believe, rightly or wrongly, that articles need to be more than interesting. But there are two types of interesting which sort of makes up for it. A stimulating interesting in that one is always engaged in the article, that while it doesn’t jump off the page or screen, is always stimulating. And a dull interesting, in that the way it’s done isn’t that imaginative, but is always readable.

This is stimulating reading

For me, when it comes to reading a piece, the best effect is when I’m intrigued and stimulated by the writing. From beginning to end, the piece falls into place nicely and sits well. The reader, that’s me, senses the piece is drawing one in, rather than away. How would one do that, as a writer? I think one must make it always interesting, with facts, color and imagination, descriptive prose, and good ideas, producing “the effect” on the reader.

When the article lacks that certain something

Have you ever had the feeling a piece of writing goes on and on, especially in the middle, when it seems the writer is searching for words to fill in space? Words with empty spaces. Hardly inventive and arousing. Less than simulating. Should be overcome with a dose of ‘color’ and factual information to spice things up.

Between truth and experience is the writer

in 1999, I wrote a short piece that was implicitly about truth but even I, the writer of that article, found myself caught between truth and experience. On one hand, truth is solid. On the other hand, experience is fluid, it flows. They can be in contradiction, but sometimes the two can intersect perfectly. This was not one of those times. My article stated a truth; but something in my nature was also going in the opposite direction as well. I went along with the truth, but had I ignored writing about experience at my peril? The editor encouraged me that the article was about a good truth. Yet I got the feeling that wasn’t enough in his eyes. Myself, I thought the article was great and even now I think it’s the best article I did for that magazine up until that time.

Cliches are pain, are they not?

I’ve heard it said that it’s better not to use cliches in one’s writing and it’s better to say it a more imaginative, colorful way. Eschewing that rule, I used two cliches in a 200-word article I wrote some years ago and I didn’t mind. I didn’t consider them cliches, but still quite inventive and keeping their flavor. But I did reverse their wording, so that “to be or not to be” was “to go or not to go” and “mountains into molehills” became “molehills into mountains”. A twist I quite enjoyed and I’m sure my readers did. Or moaned.

When endings make sense

Sometimes, articles sign off with the big takeaway point — but if a reader will engage that point depends on how well it’s done. Unfortunately, some articles may require too much thought. Having to think about what an article is saying may be detrimental to the writer’s point they are trying to make. Clear, concise, lucid article writing is always good, one that shows commitment to the point the writer is making. Then, the reader just gets the sign off in one go, without any confusion and ambiguity.

Reflecting on what’s going on in the mind of a writer

An article can reveal the state of mind of the writer, if the reader can see through the writer’s lines. States of mind can change — overtime — and the writer may be embarrassed or pleased by what they were thinking in the past. Whatever it was, reflecting on that state of mind can help the writer face it afresh and see whether that philosophy still stands today. It’s an intriguing exercise.

Writers taking a break everywhere

Sometimes, a writer may get bored writing in the same genre. So, taking a break may do wonders for the writing and the outlook. One may turn their writing wares to another genre for a while and come back to the other one later.

I did this not knowing what good it would do me. I’d been film reviewing exclusively for four years but then turned to writing articles about film. I wrote and wrote and wrote article stuff about films that I look back on today and find hidden gems that give me insight into, funnily enough, film reviewing. When looking back on those articles, they encourage and reequip my reviewing. So when I do more reviewing these days, I’m more equipped, because I have reflected on the meanings of my old articles about film and how I can apply it.

Did that inspire you?

I may have grown out of writing articles for one reason or another, but I hope my published articles inspired, encouraged or made someone think, in terms of what the article was saying to a specific reader, who might have been seeking an answer, or food for thought, on the topic I raised. Some people need answers to a topic – such as how does one go about complaining about a film? And why would one go deeper into analyzing a film? And so on. It just depends on who’s reading the article and if the article is a right fit for a specific person on the day, among the readers the writer is reaching, no matter the “page views”.

When the page comes together

The headline, the opening paragraph, and the photos, all come together to set the tone for the article. The editors did this extremely well, although I wasn’t expecting it, nor did I intend it. But it did serve the readership and I am pleased how the article turned out. The whole article reflected one basic idea that was introduced in the headline, the photos, and the opening paragraph which would make the reader identify with one main idea. What a writer thinks should be emphasized isn’t always going to be fitting or appropriate for the readership so the editors can construct a frame for the article which fits. I am quite happy with this, although I intended another emphasis, but can still along with how it was done.

No explanation required

Some readers know implicitly what a writer is talking about and the writer does not need to explain a thing. I say this in light of an article I wrote, about how many Oscar nominations The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King got in 2004. I didn’t even have to explain what The Return of the King was and what it was about because the readers would already know. Although, on the off chance someone didn’t know, I thought I should have explained it, but in the end, didn’t. There was no problem with it as the editor published it anyway, probably knowing that the subject was so well known among the readership that it didn’t require anything more than a mention.

Small touches matter: the edit that counts

Do small touches make the difference to an article? Like a slight tweak, a slight delete, a shortening, a change of word? Emphatically, yes! But it depends. Sometimes, it wouldn’t matter, but other times, it may sort out the clutter and expression, say, into something more readable, exciting, or colorful.

Editing SOS

Ever thought an article of yours that was published sounded uneven? Like some parts could have been better, but other parts were good. But in the end it sort of comes out in the wash and the effect of the article actually says something well. That’s a bit of a strange working, if I may say so. That’s how writing can go, for one reason or another. The writer, on a reasonably off day, may not be 100 percent “on the ball” but gets it right in how it all jells together. Uncanny. Maybe the writer was so enthusiastic in writing the article, and side stepped thinking it through, as it appeared to sound okay as is. With the published article, the blemishes showed through a little (at least according to the writer), yet the article still works (according to the writer, again)!

First paragraphs as they say matter

There’s nothing like a good paragraph to start an article, but what if your own paragraph (this one I’m writing excluded) sounded gratingly off-putting? That’s how I felt about a 2001 article of mine. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with what was said in that first paragraph, but back then I probably found it interesting. However, the middle of the article made me think. It actually made good sense, and if one applied this wisdom, it would do some good. I wish I had applied it earlier. Even so, one knows what one knows at the time. That’s life. But just maybe I will write the sequel….

Moments that matter

It’s great to read an old article of mine. What somebody said in it are quite simply words of wisdom and even encourage me today. I think that anyone who enjoys reading, will find that the stories and articles that they look back on, can still resonate, years later. It’s like those pleasant surprises one finds in the attic and the basement; a long lost card or report that surprises one and causes a most pleasant feeling to come over you.

Writing to make an impression on the editor

A brief guide on how to make a positive impression with an editor for any writer like me who’s been learning as they go along. I’ve found that one way to make a good impression with an editor, is to write the piece good enough that it doesn’t look like it needs editing. That’s one way to whet the editor’s appetite, as well as making the piece appealing, interesting and ticks the boxes of the writer’s guidelines.

Why do editors not edit things?

Why would an editor not edit a piece that is going to be published? The answer may be simple. The piece is good enough and so good enough that editing it would waste their precious time when they could be doing other things. Why spend time on what doesn’t need fixing, when they are other, perhaps more pressing things to do that need the editor’s time and effort? When it’s a weekly newspaper or such like, time is a precious commodity.

Submitting agony

There comes a time when I must decide on what devotions I am going to submit. The pain of it all. Agonizing. But somehow exciting. I honestly struggled and labored with the idea of what ones to send. It was a to-and-fro, back-and-forth decision, until I revised and revised again. In the end, I had five devotions to choose from, but picked a certain three because they fitted better. But with more revision of the other two, they are looking good for another assignment somewhere down the track.

Looking closer at my work

There was a period where I again read, but critiqued, my own work, because I thought it wasn’t as readable as it should have been. But in a clearer frame of mind, I looked back at those articles, and saw the “big picture”, which changed my view of my older work. It was readable and sounded good when I saw the whole. This was encouraging as my previous view was negative, now turned positive. Seeing the context or big picture change my view of a work or piece.

When editors publish your work

It’s good even great to get editors to accept your work and publish it even when some things were edited out because they were “inappropriate”. The editor must make a judgement call and cut the inappropriate stuff out. This is done so the readers are served. Most of the article is suitable, but some additional things in the article may not be serving the readers, so are slashed out of the article. The edited parts seemed innocuous, but then I’m not the reader and the editor has an obligation that their readers are served.

When using language, remember to cross your t’s

An editor has the ability to put a rough edge in a sentence into context, so it sounds just right. Take for example this:

“…looked like costing $150,000 and one year ago when Mr B___ took charge of the project, with much able assistance from technician and friend M__ B____, he knew $150,000 would not arrive on his doorstep.

This is rough for only one reason. I mentioned $150,000 twice, but a careful editor would change that to sound like this:

“looked like costing $150,000 and one year ago when Mr B___ took charge of the project, with much able assistance from technician and friend M__ B____, he knew that price would not arrive on his doorstep.

The editor contextualized the $150,00 figure by referring to it as that price later on, whereas the unedited version had mentioned the $150,000 figure twice in the same sentence. Now, it sounds better, when $150,000 is referred to as that price later on in the sentence. Again, thank you editor.

When someone gives an opinion

This post is about when someone gives their opinion of your article: good, boring, needs improving or is too long. Naturally, I like it when someone says my article is good, but am unsure how to respond when someone tells me her husband thinks my article is “boring”. Getting that remark happened only once and I didn’t hear it through the horse’s mouth as it was, so how was I to know it wasn’t the wife telling me indirectly that she thought my article was boring?

When something goes wrong

It’s so easy for the details to slip through the cracks if one isn’t paying full, conscious attention. Years back, I did an article about pastor’s views on an issue of the day (and still is). One pastor complained that he didn’t get the photo of himself back. Each pastor who was interviewed had a photo by their opinion, and one said he hadn’t got his photo back. The photos were provided by the interviewee and sent to the publisher who should have sent them back. Alas, one slipped through the cracks, apparently, even though I huffed and puffed about sending it back. Apparently, the publisher no longer had it. Lost. These are the painful, unfortunate incidents that when on the receiving end are difficult to swallow. It’s like losing a book someone borrowed from you. Then, it’s gone. The pastor, however, was understanding, although it would have been much better for everyone that this one didn’t fall through the cracks. Sending the photo back is evidence one is paying thoughtful attention to the needs of their interviewees, which is very important.

Thoughtfully approaching a piece if it’s cluttered

It’s a problem that I have been overcoming. With some of my work, a problem when I’m writing is saying so much that some paragraphs become cluttered or not saying enough when a thought should be expanded so as to provide the meaning. But I had to be more thoughtful about these difficulties. I somehow conquered this by getting everything in my head down on paper. And with a certain amount of editing, say it in such a way, that it’s clear. Being more thoughtful in other words.

Difficulties in writing can pass, but one must be aware of them first, for without awareness, then there is no rectifying.

So, I tried to sort it out with those pieces that on second reading sounded a little underdone or overdone.

Are some articles not helpful?

There are different ways readers can respond, or react for that matter, to articles. Anger is one reaction; the article is so stirring that one is thrown into a negative emotional reaction. Articles that deal with issues that polarize can always get a rise from some people. These can be basically useless articles if anger is the main response. However, for the unconverted on some issue, these kinds of articles are ‘dangerous’ in that they have the power to persuade.

Factual articles outlining the issues and going in depth are better, as they help someone find where they stand on an issue, rather than persuade or coerce.

There are also articles that make one think, but these tend to make one think for a moment, and then, that’s that. No further action and thinking required–but, what if, in that moment of thought, a writer drew someone towards a conclusion? This is when articles that make one think are useful or put someone on the wrong track. In the end, they can have the power to persuade. The best articles they say are those that inspire someone, be that personally, or to action. Then, one may ask: inspire to what? Writers can be ‘dangerous’ people.

Fancy editing

This week I’ve been turning paragraphs around in terms of their arrangement within the paragraph. But what about swapping two paragraphs around, so that the bottom paragraph goes at the top and the top paragraph goes to the bottom. As there are only two paragraphs in this piece this wasn’t a case of plowing through many paragraphs to see if swapping top to bottom wouldn’t make cohesive sense. Even so I risked the possibility of losing the sense of this two paragraph piece. But it sounded better when I swapped them.

Editing freshly

Some articles I wrote in the past, I used to send off to the editor in a bit of a rush, but these days I know an article (in this case, a devotion) isn’t finished when it seems to be. These days, I will wait another day to see the article with a fresh pair of eyes and see if anything more needs editing. This process may take weeks until I know that on one reading it sounds just right.

 

Confession: the editor saved my article

In retrospect, certain embarrassing turns of phrase and articulations in a column I wrote were going to make my column sound off-color. But a good editor saved me from such embarrassments. Having wrote the article, I sent it off to the editor, this was back in 2002. Sometimes, I may write a sentence or paragraph that I don’t double check for how it sounds. Looking back at the version I submitted, most of the article sounded fine — apart from a couple of things that would have spoiled the entire tone of the article. Just imagine it got published exactly as submitted. Such was my thought as I looked back at my submission. But an editor looked over my submission. And the editor who is doing a great job can save an article by making a few necessary adjustments. And save the writer from embarrassing moments that would have spoiled the tone of the article and make the writer look a little embarrassed. Consistency can be important to an article, or at least a sense of it. But a few off-kilter moments can spoil the broth. But the day the editor saved me from such moments is a day I had a great editor.

Risk: just do it?

I wrote a piece that might have been a risk; would I jeopardize my column? Not that it seemed to matter in the moment, because I wrote it. But with a sneaking suspicion in the back of my mind, what would happen? And months later, something happened. The column came to an end.

I reacted inside myself, but years later, I looked over the columns, and reflected somewhat on them. And if a risky article was the reason for the termination of the column, I realized why I wrote a risky article in the first place, putting it down to this and that. I looked at the wider picture and found more insight. Ideally, I should have thought before I acted. This, I would say now, is a rule of thumb. Think before sending anything. Very important.

 

 

Time brings some perspective

I hadn’t touched some articles for a few months, but time adds a little more perspective, and one can see clearly. Apart from a few which I will use, the majority will be binned or recycled for another publisher if I can find one. I always remember some wise words when I realize some work I do is, I think, usable, and the rest isn’t usable. That’s “Only some work writers do is actually any good”. But even those inferior pieces can be recycled into other pieces.

The contributor’s risk understood

I found this helpful on Image Journal: “the risk of sharing work with us”. What I say there may be an oxymoron, for why is the risk of sharing work with them helpful? Let me bring in the context. They’re saying submitting work is a risk: when someone shares their work with an editor, it is a risk. Sharing one’s work with an editor is exhilarating and nerve wracking. One doesn’t know the outcome, but is excited nevertheless. A risk in other words. Yes, risk is the right word; the word risk illuminates what I do when I submit articles, stories, and devotions. And Image Journal appreciate that in a writer as do many other journals.