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Monday, August 16, 2010

Are you Married to Your Words?

You have an idea. A brilliant idea. And so the story begins. You jot down some of these ideas, perhaps you are more organized than most and you begin folders. You compile, research, gather and eventually after many hours of toil you hold in your hand the finished product. A manuscript for the entire world to behold... here are your words, your heart, your thoughts.

For many that is the end. The carefully crafted words never see the light of day. Yet, for others it is just the beginning. One of my daughter's college friends was a self-proclaimed closet author. She had worked on a manuscript in private, a love story that no one was allowed to read. No family, no friends, not even her friend’s mom who was an author (me). Even though this dear, young lady worked as my assistant. Finally after much trepidation, she shared her story with me. I was allowed to read her private work. When I asked her if she wanted any input she said, “Not really.” She never planned to let anyone read it. This was her work, and in her thoughts a part of herself.

This young lady is not alone. Thousands of other would-be authors do not allow their work to see daylight due to insecurity of what others will say. She could not bear the thought that someone would hack her carefully crafted words. And so, her story remains hidden. She wrote a fiction work and therefore it is an area where more creativity is called upon and perhaps the author feels more vulnerable.

What happens when you do let other people read your manuscript and finally send it to a professional editor? Your work will be critiqued, analyzed and cleaned up. This is not to say you can’t self-edit your own work. I read and reread my work many times. However, I always use editors when I’m finished with the first draft, and have ever since the very beginning of my career.

Being an author takes tough skin. I have worked on manuscripts on both sides of the spectrum. As an author, publisher and content editor executing major rewrites, and as a ghost writer as well. I’ve been paid to read manuscript for both brief and thorough analysis. The latter consists of giving my opinion on what it will take to get a work ready for publication. In each case the information comes from experience, clothed as much in consideration for the author’s ego as possible.

Still, when I look at the computer screen after implementing the grammatical tracking system on my word processing program, the paper appears to bleed from all the red ink. If it is of any consolation, I've had my work "bleed" in the past from my editors. In fact anytime I write and send my work to an editor it comes back marked, some places more than others. I can conveniently click “accept changes” or “reject changes.” Ultimately I am the author and I can decide. 

Truthfully? I'm not married to my words. If there is a better way to say something then I want to know. I'd rather have someone slash my carefully crafted sentence then go to print with something sub-par. The results have been stunning.

You are in good company. No one likes criticism, yet critique with a purpose can make the difference between an author whose work remains mediocre and one whose work reaches great heights. Here is to reaching for the stars!


  1. Thanks Felitz for the encouragement!

  2. Amen! I used to be very insecure about my words back when they didn't influence anyone. I realized that, if my words would have any impact, they must be edited. In Art of Eloquence's early days, I did my own website. It was awful. lol I knew it but didn't have enough tech knowledge to fix it. I put a plea out to a Yahoo group I belonged to for help. What's wrong with it and how do I fix it? A woman emailed and very gracefully ripped my website to shreds! She thought I'd be mad. I was extremely grateful and we've been good buddies ever since!

  3. This is interesting. I am homeschooling my daughter, she is 14 and just started 9th grade. Her desire is to be a writer...specifically fiction and preferably fantasy. I need to have her read this post, because, even though (in my opinion) she's a great writer, she is attached to her words. It's her story, her creation and she has a difficult time with rewriting and editing. We are using Learning to Write the Novel Way this year for her English...which I'm sure will force her to edit and rewrite as we get going.

  4. JoJo, part of being an author is being teachable, and you were!

    Melissa, your daughter was the exact age mine was when we penned a series for teens, Truth Seekers Mystery Series... When each edit came back (we had scientists as well as teens, and parents read it) she took one look at the page, and could not read it. I on the other hand was soooo happy to have good constructive criticism. Even now, I'd love to see those novels go through another re-edit as I know more editors that specialize in fiction and knew no one then that did! So, yes, have your daughter read this article and listen to the interview on Monday, August 16th that I did with Jody Hedlund. She spoke about what authors need to get published, and one was being teachable! The interview was great! She wrote ofr 15 years before obtaining an agent and a 3-book contract with Bethany Publishers. The interview is here:

  5. Hey, I LOVE the look of your site! It's different. FINALLY, I have time occasionally to surf the blogsphere. Way to go, Felice! You are faithfully blogging, which is more than I can say for myself. *sad face*