Cleaning Up My Mess

Cleaning up my mess

Cleaning up my mess

If I had a dollar for every time I rewrote or edited one of my novels before it went to press, I’d be sitting here like Scrooge McDuck counting my stacks of Gold Doubloons. I’m all about tidy perfectionism, particularly when it comes to stuff I put my name on. If three times is a charm, then three dozen assures spotless brilliance–right?

There’s a really good reason why even editors don’t edit their own work. Because when it comes to sentences we’ve raked over a bazillion times this side of Sunday, the brain has a quirky way of turning off the main switch when it comes to assessing the things it’s brought to life.

Although it’s been years now, I still recall certain early reviews heralding the release of my debut novel, The Secret of Lies–gorgeous and poetic–they arrived as if carried on the wings or angels. Golden morsels suddenly slamming to a jarring halt and leaning toward hostile when these same readers found themselves stumbling over typos and grammar homicide perpetrated by said author. Ouch. That stuff hurts, even more so since I myself was the boob providing the bullets for critics to load into their guns.

Or, in writerly terms, the hunt for the editor you surely NEED to find because this essential pied piper of prettified prose isn’t you. Seriously. It isn’t.

…is absolutely not the right way to go about finding the perfect word-mate to comb through your brilliant creation. Make no mistake, you’re not only making an investment in your career, you’re pursuing a relationship, in which case it seems something of a romantic approach is in order. Get out there and mingle. Saunter through cyberspace and stop in at a few online writer hangouts. Pull up a keyboard and join in the chit-chat. Note those voices which most resonate. Collect recommendations from starry-eyed writers madly in love with their editors. Make more notes–mentally or on paper–just make them.

If what you’re looking for is a set of eyes to align your p’s & q’s, and sort your “then and than’s,” your task might prove less complicated. But me, I’m a romantic with a hankering for truelove. In writer speak, it means pining for an editor with knowledge, chutzpah, confidence, wisdom, and of supreme importance–someone who connects with my scribbling. A courtship? Yep, pretty much.

I now fast forward to introduce the winner of my own carefully versed Dating Game–tah dah *shoots confetti–reloads–double shot*–Karen Sanderson, The Word Shark.

Seriously, that’s it. Beware of cheap imitations.

Certainly there are oodles of noodles and mighty word slayers, so how to choose wisely, Indiana Jones? For me it was a definite series of clicks heard round the world–or at least loud and clear within the vicinity of my head.

Sample edit: concise, professional–CLICK. Initial and subsequent correspondence: honest, wise, generous, prompt, and oftentimes hilarious (bonus points considering my general buffoon tendencies)–CLICK.  Timely edit-in-progress updates to soothe my anxious soul–CLICK. Essential nit-picky comments leading me to prune and  fine-tune the clumsy, clanky, scratchy bits from my pile of pages–CLICK. Suggestions, immediate reactions and impressions of plot twists and character motivation, aka exposing junk masquerading as literature–double CLICK. And the grand finale, an editorial letter wrapping it all together–strengthens, weakness, applause–multiple CLICKS.

Finished. My mess is now tidy and polished, and Painted From Memories is mere days away from release. The construction dust has settled and yet still here, lending support, cheerleading,  blowing-up balloons, ready to uncork the champagne, is my wildly cool new editor and aforementioned Word Shark. A gifted word whisperer who continues to step above and beyond–and then–beyond beyond.  Long term keeper–CLICK.


And you, what cha thinking? Have you found your dream editor? On the hunt for the perfect fit? Still wondering if you really even need one?




What? Me Worry?



When was the last time you worried over a situation so long and hard, that you succeeded in turning it around, changing the outcome, or banishing it into oblivion? Hopefully you’re being honest and said NEVER, otherwise I’d be forced to say you’re completely up-to-your-eyeballs-full-of-baloney s***.

I know this because I once carried a Masters Degree in worry and was well on my way to a PhD.  Not that I actually aspired to such honors — it was more a matter of accepting the award with a smile and a handshake since I’d worked so hard to earn it.  In retrospect I would’ve been wise to refuse it, but that’s the thing about hindsight, it’s always so much more defined when you’re looking back from a distance of time passed.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy … Ah, what a concept.  But where are the instructions? How exactly do we transfer the song lyrics over into real life, where angst and concern are so often the flavor of the day?

It starts in childhood, this penchant for worry, and it takes on strength with every growth spurt. By the time we reach adulthood, we’re full blown worrywarts and what-if-aholics; piling worry on top of worry, where they will subsequently mate and breed, producing enough crazy ideas to paper a padded cell.

It’s a fact that worry, left alone to mingle with imagination, will often conceive an abundance of worrisome thoughts masquerading as rational concerns. It becomes all to easy to convince ourselves that the school bus driver  is a recently paroled ax murderer, or that the real reason hubby’s plane hasn’t arrived on time is because it’s at the bottom of the North Altantic …

Yes, of course, all worry does not come from a place of irrational paranoia, and there are legitimate instances when logic and worry collide with the force of continents dislodged, all for good reason. But even in the midst of genuine crisis, it’s helpful to keep in mind that worry is not so much to be ignored as it is to be mastered.  After all, worry loses a good deal of it’s potency if you refuse to feed it kick it in the butt and run away.

It’s not always easy to let go of our human tendencies to worry, but I’ve learned a few absolutes:

*Worry will not dissolve the traffic jam and get you to your doctor’s appointment on time.

*Worry will not increase your test scores

*Worry will not help your child make the team

*Worry will not get your book, blog, or synopsis written

*Ditto, Worry will not make reviewers, readers, or editors stand-up and cheer once you do

*Worry will not remove cellulite, excess weight, or a bad hair day

*Worry will not end wars, pay the  mortgage, or get you to the church on time

The fact remains that worry doesn’t solve problems, in as much as it allows them to grow to stifling proportions.  The result of which does little more than cripple us from action, or in many cases, to expend abundant energies running in the wrong direction.  It’s not always easy, but the thing to do is grab this gremlin by the scruff of the neck, and wrestle it off it’s pedestal.  Troublesome little  monster never should’ve been up there anyway.

True confessions–Yes, I am a recovering worrier. How about you?