Mon. Aug. 27, 2018: Respect for Craft #UpbeatAuthors

Monday, August 27, 2018
Day After Full Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Neptune Retrograde
Pluto Retrograde
Uranus Retrograde
Mars Retrograde – as of today

The final post about respect is about respect for craft, which is vital to us as authors.

If you’re a professional, published writer, your craft matters. Making each book better than the one before it, on levels of story, character, structure, language, grammar, and style MATTERS.

It shows respect for yourself, your work, your readers, and writing in general.

It matters.

When I teach, students who don’t give a damn about grammar, spelling, the difference between a possessive, a plural, and a contraction don’t last long. Because it shows a lack of respect for the work.

This ties back into the post from a few weeks ago – if you don’t respect your own work, no one else has any reason to respect it, either.

More than one student has shrugged and claimed “they didn’t have” basic, third-grade grammar in school. Having been through the school system, there’s a difference between what the teacher presented and what the student CHOSE to learn.

If you CHOSE not to learn something vital in school, and you expect to be a professional, published writer, take the time now to do it.

Also, when you, as a writer, work with a professional editor, be it in a publishing situation, or a workshop situation, and you get a correction, APPLY IT MOVING FORWARD. There is little more frustrating, as a teacher, than explaining to a student why a contraction is not appropriate when context requires a possessive and the student CONTINUING to make the SAME mistake, because that individual can’t be bothered to pay attention and apply what is learned. It is a waste of all of our time.

When I worked for a publishing company, I supported their strict submission policy on errors in submission packages. If there were more than three errors in the submission (which was usually query letter, synopsis, and the first three chapters), it was an automatic rejection.

The company, which did high-end art books printed on gorgeous paper in Italy and Japan, expected the authors to give enough of a damn to take the time to proofread and understand the craft. Anyone who submitted a package filled with errors obviously didn’t, and wasn’t worth the time or the money it took to produce the beautiful books. Because there were ten thousand other talented writers lined up right behind that one who cared enough to learn the craft and submit error-free proposals.

Fortunately for all of us writers who appreciate our editors and copyeditors, we have more leeway in the actual book. It never fails to mortify me when my editor and copyeditor catch things I should have seen before I submitted. But when it’s a craft issue, and not just me not catching an error, I ask questions, and pay attention to the “why” of the answer. Is it house style? Have I mis-learned something along the way? And then I apply what I’ve learned moving forward.

I still remember what a former editor at Amber Quill Press taught me about the difference between “toward” and “towards.”

There are also certain stylistic choices that are non-negotiable for me. I get those into contract clauses, so there is no confusion down the line.

Editors are overworked and underpaid. They don’t have the time to teach you what was taught in third grade that you did not bother to learn. Nor should they have to. The days of Jack Kerouac walking into a publisher’s office with a mess of a roll of typing that was brilliant enough and that an editor had time enough to fix are over.

Not only that, when you know and understand your craft: grammar, structure, spelling, story, character – then YOU get to control when you break what are considered the rules.

There’s a HUGE difference between a writer who knows the rules and chooses to break them and the writer who can’t be bothered to learn the rules in the first place.

The writer who learns and makes a choice pushes the work into exciting new realms. Because the foundation is solid, and each rule-breaking is a CHOICE, it usually works. Those who don’t know/can’t be bothered – well, the work reads as careless.

I’m always up for something exciting and new in the work. But careless writing is a slap in the face to me as a reader.

My goal in each book, story, article, is for it to be better than the one before. I try to learn with each piece, and build on what I learned before. I’m the first to admit that I don’t always succeed. Not everything I write is going to work. Even when it goes through the entire publication process, with the support of other professionals, some pieces are going to miss the mark.

I learn from those, too. And what I learn is applied moving forward.

Because I love and respect the craft of writing, and I respect my readers. I try to do the best for all of us that I can. Which means always learning.

Published in: on August 27, 2018 at 6:23 am  Comments Off on Mon. Aug. 27, 2018: Respect for Craft #UpbeatAuthors  
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Wed. June 7, 2017: A Day in the Life of A Writer

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Waxing Moon
Saturn Retrograde
Rainy and cold

My brain was tired yesterday from all the script work. However, I pushed through and sent off a few more article pitches. One of them was accepted within 20 minutes. I’ve written most of the article in my head; I’ll set it to paper later today. I’m hoping I can get a quote from a source in time, but the turnaround is so tight, I don’t know if that’s possible.

Another article pitch that I sent off a few weeks ago was rejected, so I’m re-slanting it and sending it to a different market, and crafting a new pitch for the first market, which is a place I’m determined to crack.

Decided not to pitch to two markets, because they expect you to sign up and participate in the “community” in order to land a paid assignment. Sorry, as a professional, I am hired to write on my ability to deliver the particular assignment, not on spending hours of unpaid time toadying. Next!

Pitched to another gig that is in my wheelhouse and that I would like a lot provided the pay is right and they’re willing to work bi-coastally.

I wrote twenty more script pages on PARALLEL-O-GAME. Definitely a limited run series (which used to be called a mini-series). I’m writing the first draft as one long piece; in subsequent drafts, I will break it down into the correct act structure for each segment. However, while I’m writing, I’m also keeping the act structure — both for each segment, and for the overall piece, in the back of my head, so that most of it will already be inherent in the pace. That’s something that only comes from experience. I’ve outlined a good portion of the next section, and scratched some notes down, although not anywhere near as detailed as for what’s already written.

I managed to write 13 pages this morning, which brings me roughly to the end of Part One.

Still haven’t heard about the edits on the assignment from the other publication. The lag time they have between everything is irritating. I have serious doubts that we’ll have a long association. I want to give it a chance, see if it’s just a case of getting used to their rhythm, but I have my doubts.

Was asked to submit a play to a new works festival north of Boston; on the fence about it, since they didn’t take the last one I submitted. Not sure I want to simply submit so their numbers look good for funding. Their numbers this year must be low, or they wouldn’t have emailed me to ask me to submit.

The radio play was acknowledged; they make their decisions in early September.

I have a short story to finish that’s dragging; I need to get it done and out the door, once the article is done, because the market for that story, should I crack it, would be another solid source of steady work. Even though it’s fiction.

This morning, I’m headed over to Cotuit Center for the Arts for a coffee chat, a new program of theirs. Several people I know will be there, and the set and costume designers will be talking — always fun to talk to colleagues.

Friday morning, I have a meeting for a potential new project that would be a lot of fun. And local. Fingers crossed it goes well. I pitched to them yesterday morning and the interview was nailed down by the afternoon, which is always a good sign.
I hope this creative rhythm continues!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Iris stays in bed on cold winter mornings

Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Full Moon
Neptune Retrograde
Mercury Retrograde
Full Lunar Eclipse
Winter Solstice
Snow

Happy Solstice, Peaceful Yule!

It’s truly winter here, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

First, hop on over to Biblio Paradise, where Diane Parkin talks about her novel NIGHT CRAWLER. Leave a comment, so she’ll know you were there!

Then, hop over to my new gardening blog, GRATITUDE AND GROWTH, for its launch. Most of the time, I’ll post on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but I thought the Solstice on a Full Moon was a good day to start!

Okay, back now?

Yesterday was a good writing day. Finished, polished, and got off the big article on time, and my editors seem pleased with it. Prepped the two blog posts listed above. Caught up on email. Made some notes for a couple of projects — a play and a book — that have February deadlines.

It snowed all day, which was lovely. Mid-afternoon, I shovelled the walk and the driveway. It wasn’t too bad, but either I have to invest in a snowblower or hire someone if the whole winter is like this. I’m simply not strong enough if the snow gets much heavier.

It kept snowing in the night, and, when I went to turn off the outdoor trees at 10 PM, I couldn’t open the door! Not only had enough snow fallen so it blanketed the step above the doorframe, but more had blown against it. I wrestled the door open to get the trees unplugged, and went to bed.

I was awake on and off, hoping to see the lunar eclipse, but didn’t. Everything was that milky pale bright of moonlight.

This morning, the neighbors were up bright and early, with their snow blowers, and cleaned my driveway and walk for me. Isn’t that kind?

Yep, when we can get out of here tomorrow, I think it’s time for me to invest in a snow blower! It took them maybe 10 minutes to clear the drive and the walkway, so if I had a blower and did it myself, it would take maybe 20. I could hire one of the guys up the street to plow me out, but if we have a severe winter, the blower will earn its keep within a month or so.

And for some reason, the sound of the snow blower is at a different pitch and it doesn’t hurt the way leaf blowers do. (Just a reminder, the sound of a leaf blower causes the physical response in me that could trigger a heart attack, which is one of the MANY reasons I don’t own one. Why would I own a a machine that could kill me simply by turning it on?. The name of this condition is a very long word with lots of consonants).

I stuck my yardstick in a clear part of the yard, and it hit just under 13”. The weather folk keep saying yeah, the Cape got hit harder than expected (they said 2-4”), but we seem to have gotten more than the places they’re measuring.

My mom’s friend is supposed to visit today, but I don’t know if she can get here. After all, they had to close to Bourne Bridge for awhile last night, due to weather. And we’re supposed to get walloped over Christmas weekend with an even more severe storm, so I think we’re not going to make it to Maine for Christmas Day Dinner. Which is fine, I’ll just cook a turkey here (and hope the CO detector doesn’t go off).

I’ve got logs for the Yule ceremony this evening, and a chicken to roast tonight. I may call my favorite hardware store in Osterville and say, “Hey, babe, got a snowblower that fits in a volkswagen?” because why not give him a challenge, right? 🙂 I might as well be his resident eccentric.

I’m going to run the vacuum quickly through the house now (after sprinkling the carpets with lavender and peppermint) just in case my mom’s friend turns up. Then, I’ll get back to the page for awhile. I got very little done on yesterday’s To Do list (yes, I made a list for once), so I want to get a little bit more done today.

Yesterday was productive, and the quality was high, but today I need to add in some more quantity, too!

And I want to come up with something nice to do for the neighbors as a thanks!

Devon