Monday, February 20, 2012

Things Do Get Better with Age

Or is it maturity?  Yes...I think that's the better way to say it.  After all, mold on old bread isn't good, but mold on mature cheese is.

What am I talking about?  Sorry.  You guys stepped into one of my ongoing thought processes.  A confusing place to be, no doubt.

See, I had a bit of a self-realization the other day.  I was rereading one of my earliest books and--like we authors do--cringing at some of the wordings I used.  I went through and mentally rewrote a good portion of the story just because I could.

Now, don't get me wrong.  I still like the book as it was, after all, it won several awards and got excellent reviews.  But because it was one of the first books I did, I hadn't matured completely into my true writing style.  Bottom line is, I still had a lot to learn.

I look back at those first few years of writing and thank God for those people who proofed, edited and critiqued my work.  They taught me so much, even if I didn't always agree with their assessment.  I learned to look at the book as a whole AND as parts of that whole, and as I did that, my writing improved and like fine wine or cheese (not moldy bread), it matured.

So...  GROUP HUG!!!!  Let me take a moment now to thank Pat, who has been my proofreader since the beginning.  She now edits for me as well, so I'm pleased when I make money, because she does too.  Her loyalty, friendship and gentle "WTF did you mean by this?" helps steer me in the right direction.

And then there is Penny and Louise and Jewell who all gave me so much insight into myself.  We discussed and argued and agreed to disagree sometimes, but always they helped me turn out a great book.  I don't work with any of them any more which is a shame, because they were all great editors.

One of the editors I learned the most from was my Samhain editor.  We don't work together any longer either, and I regret that because she taught me so much.  We argued about things, and were both pretty anal about turning out a good book so drove each other nuts, but she had a way of making me look at things that to this day, with every book I write, I use her methods.  And I turn out VERY clean books because of her influence.

Even those editors that were awful, horrible, no damn good (and yes, unfortunately, there are a few out there) taught me something.  Even if it was what NOT to do.  Many were the times I had to teach an editor proper grammar, sentence structure or spelling.  I've gone around and around with an editor about phrasing, even going so far as to send her links to where it was properly used.  So I know the sentence "I'm an editor, so I'm always right", is one of the most laughable statements in the publishing world.  But teaching them polished my own skills.

And even then I can learn from them.  Sometimes there is a nugget of gold that I can come away with.  An old pastor of mine used to say to, "eat the meat and throw away the bones", and I use that often when it comes to editing.  Take the meat (good edits) you're given, and let them nourish you.  Toss the bones (the WTF edits) and forget them.  Editing is mostly subjective.  Unless it's a technical issue, a lot of edits are opinions and since you are the author, it should be your opinion that holds the most sway.

So am I done with the process yet?  I don't think so.  You never stop learning, so I doubt I'll ever stop maturing.  While my style of writing may not change much, I hope I will continue to better myself with every book I pen.

Maybe then when I reread them, I won't cringe so much!  *smile*

See you on Wednesday!


CJ England
Follow Your Dreams


Phylis said...

Sometimes we are our own worse critics! Sounds like you got some great help in your writing. Looking forward to what you come up with next.

CJ England said...

Thanks, Phylis. I can only hope you like what I do.