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physician, heal thyself

September 8, 2012

I would like to do developmental editing, as well as copyediting. My first foray into developmental editing, however, didn’t go well. The author didn’t care for my suggestions, and things ended awkwardly. After a lot of soul searching, I spoke frankly to some friends about what services I hoped to offer, and both of them interpreted what I wrote very differently from what I thought I was saying. So I did more soul searching.

Eventually, I realized that perhaps I should try developmentally editing my own stuff first.

I write twice as many blog posts as I actually put up on the blog. I write journal entries and all sorts of other pieces that no one but me ever sees. Everything I do put up has been revised repeatedly, often rewritten substantially. So that’s developmental editing of a sort.

I meant to try something more deliberate, more specific.

What if I took a piece of writing on a particular topic and kept distilling it until I got to its essence? What if I was more ruthless than I would probably feel comfortable being with an author? Because hey, I’m not gonna hurt my own feelings by acknowledging some stuff I write is crap. That’s part of being a writer.

So I tackled the contest essay question. So far, I’ve thought about, and tried to write about, six different topics to answer that question. For the most promising topic, I wrote four distinct drafts, with little overlap.

They were all crap. There were way too many details that no one but me could possibly care about. My theme or point or whatever was so muddled that even I don’t know what I was trying to say. The ‘lesson learned’ didn’t connect to the narrative, except in my head.

I don’t think they’re salvageable.

The hard deadline is next Thursday, but I’d already set myself a personal deadline of Sunday night. So I took a midnight ramble around the neighborhood to regroup. Came up with two other ideas I could write about. Worked through some of the details and implications. Nope, can’t make them work either.

I’ve come up with a meta approach. I’ve written notes, which I will sleep on, and tomorrow I will get the writing going.

I’ve committed myself to submitting something for this contest. My objective is mainly to see if I can/will get a rejection letter.  Everyone says you’re not a real writer until your writing has been rejected multiple times by publishers. So far I’ve only been rejected once. (And published twice.)


This feels like it needs a resolution, but it’s 3:46 a.m., and that means I need to go to bed.

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