Welcome to Scarlet Thread Sunday, when I throw out a thread of something I’ve learned in the labyrinth of life.
Do you remember submitting a paper to your English teacher and having it returned with her editing marks? Some teachers were gracious and made suggestions rather than commands to fix the problems, perhaps even including happy faces or exclamation points in those sections where your writing was particularly good. Other teachers were less merciful and told it like it was–marking up your pages with ink until they were covered like a tattoo-sleeved arm. The result was that you learned to Fear the Red Pen.
It can thus be difficult to make the transition to marking up your own writing like the hard-lined instructor with the red pen poised like a hatchet and ready to prune your pretty writing. But you must.
You can no longer fear the red pen. In fact, you must embrace it…and add some highlighters and/or other colored pens to the mix. When your nasty teacher corrected you, she seemed cruel. But you must be cruel to yourself…cruel to be kind. (Yes, of course, “in the right measure.”)
So for all of the beautiful talk of inspirational muses and writing flowing from our fingertips like fairy dust and weaving of the story plot like a crocheted blanket to warm us, it is time to discover what the editing process can look like. Without further ado, here’s a no-holds-barred, buck-stops-here, fix-it-til-it-works look at an edited page.
THAT is what writing looks like. What we often don’t see when we open the crisp spine and thumb through our favorite books–or download the ebook and scroll the pages across our screen–is that the author toiled to get those words in that order to convey the meaning she wanted.
I didn’t realize going into writing that I would actually welcome ink all over a page I’d written. The result of such toil is writing that flows effortlessly across that page and bids the reader to continue.
“If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn’t call it genius.”~Michelangelo
This is true of any writing–whether fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, advertising, your master’s thesis, your research paper, or the essay you’re writing for your high school English course. If you want to avoid the red pen of others, embrace it yourself. Force yourself to take the writing to a higher level.
What else have I done to take my writing to a higher level? Here’s my week’s check-in.
- Complete full rewrite of SHARING HUNTER. Rewrote one chapter. I’m kicking this into gear this week. Hello, FAST DRAFT, starting Monday. If you want to join in, let me know. I’d be happy to give and receive encouragement!
- Edit first short story. Deep edited last chapter. Letting it sit for a week, then I’ll polish it up.
- Write second short story. First draft finished last week.
- Write blog posts for Sundays (including ROW80 updates) and Wednesdays. Posted Music Covers and ROW80 on Sunday and The Language of 19th Century Spirit Mediums on Wednesday (with guest K.B. Owen) and Stepping Up and Stepping Out: The Mark of a Man on Friday.
- Complete weekly lessons for Writing Body Language course. This week was lips/mouth, touch, and dialogue cues. Completed, with thanks to my fabulous class editing partner, Rachel Funk Heller.
- Read and work through The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell. Finished!
- Read at least ten fiction books. Read 10 books and now just adding to the list:
- Hush Now, Don’t You Cry by Rhys Bowen (historical mystery)
- The Yard by Alex Grecian (historical mystery)
- Your Spiritual Personality by Marita Littauer (nonfiction)
- The Ruth Valley Missing by Amber West (mystery)
- The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen (historical mystery)
- Frosted by Wendy Sparrow (paranormal romance)
- Savage Cinderella by P.J. Sharon (YA contemporary)
- Blood Ties by Lori G. Armstrong (mystery)
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (literary fiction)
- Tighter by Adele Griffin (YA contemporary)
- The Emerald Tablet by P.J. Hoover
- Shrilugh by Myndi Shafer – started
- Exercise twice a week. Participated in the first yoga class on Monday. I couldn’t make Wednesday’s class, and Zumba was on hiatus. So half-done.
- Take a true Sabbath–no working and time with God and family one day a week. Done.
Comment on whatever you want. Editing. ROW80. The annoying English teacher you had in 9th grade who red-inked everything you ever wrote. Your pick.