Update August 5, 2015
I’m baaaaack! It’s been awhile, hasn’t it?
First, a progress update. Let me say up front how much I appreciate everyone’s patience. I hope you’ll be rewarded for your patience. It’s been a very busy and active summer, with a lot of the usual (and mostly positive) demands for both my time and attention.
As always, real life takes precedence, but I haven’t been totally idle on the writing front. I’m well into both of the last two scenes. One, in particular, needs to be handled very carefully. I’ve hand-written several pages of notes, scribbled down when something popped out of my ruminations. It happened again just now, and I jotted it down. It has the potential to be….. we’ll leave it there. No need tempting Fate any more than necessary.
So, slow though it may be, there has been progress.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about the whole process of writing for public consumption is the need for a skilled editor. No one – no one, not Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, or William Faulkner – who wants to be taken seriously as a writer can go without a good editor.
If nothing else, an editor who is actually a simple proof-reader is better than none at all. Even with the help of more than one set of eyes going over my drafts, mistakes and misspellings inevitably get through.
To me, an editor should be so much more than a proof-reader. Sure, on of an editor’s primary roles is finding typos, misspellings, grammatical, and usage errors. But a good editor goes way beyond that. To me, an editor is a critic, a mentor, a teacher, a resource, someone I can turn to when I’m stuck. A good editor is going to kick me in the butt when I deserve it, but at the same time offer suggestions on how to fix whatever got me dragged to the compositional woodshed.
To a large degree, I’ve relied on friends to act as quasi-editors for me. These wonderful people each brings a unique perspective when reviewing copies of the penultimate drafts I send their way. While this has always been a bit cumbersome and inefficient, but it usually works well for me. I take all of the suggestions and the mistakes they’ve found, and study them closely. Then I’ll either accept or discard input based on what I’m trying to accomplish.
The folks I rely on as informal editors and mentors know who they are. I hope they also know how much I depend on their input. I do want to be taken seriously as a capable writer of story-driven erotica. I’d be happy to be seen as a competent writer of a story with plenty of sex/erotica, rather than a story about sex/erotica.
The fine friends who act as my de facto editors and mentors deserve credit for any successful writing I may offer up. I, on the other hand, am the only one who deserves the blame when something turns out badly. I make the ultimate decisions about what is and is not going to make the cut, so errors are my responsibility alone.
I haven’t been much of a fiction reader since way back in high school. I suspect that’s because I was forced to read things I wouldn’t otherwise touch with a 39 ½ foot pole, and I’m none the wiser for my labors.
Those of you either of or with kids of a certain age might well remember a Nickelodeon cartoon (“Nicktoon”) called “Rocko’s Modern Life.” Rocko is a sane and rational wallaby trying to make sense of modern life. In the intro, there’s a part where a disembodied hand opens Rocko’s skull, and stuffs an enormous book titled “Knowledge” inside.
That’s kind of how I felt about the fiction I had to read in English classes.
I’ve always been what’s termed an “autodidact”, a self-teacher. I didn’t need an English department syllabus to tell me what I needed to know in order to appreciate literature. I had no trouble reading most of Charles Dickens and all of John Steinbeck’s fictional output on my own. I loathed anything by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville (in fact, probably 90% of 19th century American literature), so what I subsequently got out of them that was of any real educational value was exactly Zilch.
Instead, I learned what I learned from following my natural curiosity, which brought me to history, biography, dictionaries, and Roget’s thesaurus. Fiction, except for Shirley Jackson, the odd title thrown in here and there (only a handful of Stephen King), or rereading Steinbeck and Dickens has never been on my reading list. I still have trouble reading Shakespeare, but I really enjoy seeing it performed.
All this to say, writing fiction is strange territory for me. If I were writing articles for nursing journals, yeah, that makes some sense. But fiction? History would suggest it wasn’t likely, but that’s exactly what I come to love writing, but only on my own terms.
I really do love it, the whole process — which means I need editors.
I hope everyone has a great summer. I hope to have something before I go on vacation at the end of the month.