There are certain times in your life when you go back to visit old ideas and adventures that you’ve put on hold. Currently, besides all the other stuff I’ve been doing, I’ve gotten interested once again in backpacking and editing. The backpacking is something I’ve always wanted to do, but never seemed to get around to. The editing I’ve been doing in one form or another for a long time, but never really did a deep dive until now.
I blame my friend, Dennis Young, for seducing me into editing in a focused sort of way. I’ve been putting in my two cents worth on his Blood Lines series of vampire novels for some time now. That indirectly got me connected to someone who, sadly, wasn’t really ready for writing novels. Not that he was a bad writer–he just couldn’t make his story go in an orderly fashion toward a coherent whole. I wished him luck and ran.
When I was a lab rat, I wrote, edited, messed about with grant proposals and articles. When I was a corporate weenie, I wrote, edited and messed about with SOP’s , quality manuals, audit reports, and other such stuff that makes the pharmaceutical world go round.
This summer I got down and dirty with editing my father’s World War II memoir. I hope to have it up as an e-book sometime this fall or winter. I had a really good time doing that. It was like having a sit-down conversation with my late father. I got to hear his voice in my head, laugh at his humor, live some of his doubts and fears. The thing I probably learned most clearly in reading and correcting the typos in my dad’s book was not to change his voice. He spoke a certain way. That comes through in his writing. I’ve said here before that it was his voice I used, unaware, for the voice of my young heroine in “Wasting Water”, my novella in the anthology Undeniable: Authors Respond to Climate Change.
As I always do when faced with a new adventure, I hit the library. There I found a book on editing for journalists, The Elements of Editing: A Modern Guide for Editors and Journalists, by Arthur Plotnik, that I wish I had read before or even during the time I was editing The Rune, a small-circulation, local magazine. Editing, I am finding, is a great opportunity to see how other authors work, help them avoid some of the pitfalls I hurled myself into, and encourage good writing. And it’s an opportunity to catch the homonyms, malapropisms, misplaced modifiers, and other stuff that makes you crazy when you’re reading an article or a book. To borrow from Jeff Foxworthy, if you make corrections to nearly everything you read, you might be an editor.
So that’s what I’ve been doing for my summer vacation. Now it might be time to get back to writing.
Image: Once again, my catastrophic desk. By Marilyn Evans.