Sunday, August 21, 2011

Not Writing--EDITING

When I taught classes full time--which accounts for most of the last 18 years, even while rearing babies (yes, the term really is "rearing," an appropriate term for at least the first 2-3 years, when caring for the baby's rear is one of one's primary tasks)--I often used grading papers as an excuse to NOT write.

The excuse worked. Really well. Anybody would believe me. All I had to do is show my husband the ream of papers I'd brought home to dissect, and he'd shake his head sympathetically. And grading had to come first, too. After all, I got paid to grade papers. And writing, at least at this point, pays very little.

That knocked writing out all over the place. No way I can possibly do NaNoWriMo with all of this on my plate. Nightly quizzes, rough drafts, final projects, mini-essays. I was an English teacher, after all. Couldn't exactly run my papers through a scan-tron machine. (Any of you students and teachers should know what those are, the machines that read the sheets students fill little dots on. And they read tests zippingly, digesting and scoring 30 of them in a minute.)

I felt just like Cinderella, unable to go to the ball until I could get all my work done, find a suitable dress to wear, etc. So I sat around in my ashes, with my little purple pen out, grading away whole weekends at a time.

It was nice.

Only now I'm not teaching. And my house is pretty much all remodeled. Sure, I have a few excuses, but nothing nearly as good as grading. I've been reaching out, scrambling to find anything to keep from writing. After all, writing is a waste of time, isn't it? Hardly anybody ever sells a book, and even if they do it won't be successful, right?

I had to find some other way to fill the time. And now I have. I'm editing. For pay. This will be the third novel I've edited for money, though I have worked on many a friend's novel free of charge. Editing's a bit different from just being a beta reader. It's more in-depth, for it may be the last time anyone besides the author reads a book before it's published. Important stuff. Wouldn't want to miss a single typo or extra comma. What if characters close a door three times on a single page, but never open it? What if the ending is confusing?

And editing is FUN. No grade to assign at the end, and I know the author is serious enough to hire an editor, so I know my comments will have a positive effect on the final project. Nice. Rewarding. Time-consuming.

So I have finally found something to keep me from writing. I'm just sorry it's a temporary fix. In a few weeks, at the latest, I'll be done with the edit. I'll just have to find some other way to wallow in the ashes a bit more. Any ideas?


  1. I knew this was your path a long time ago... you have what it takes to do it full time.

    I think you'll write when you're ready, and editing helps you catch flaws easier, so you want commit them in your work (as often)

    Once I am ready you’re first on my list.

  2. Could you edit my manuscript for me, once I've finished writing it. Please? ;)

  3. I'm up for any editing. Honestly, I love grammar and love helping people get what they want said to be brilliant. I tend to edit a first chapter for free, just to give writers a sense of how I will respond with edits. If they like it, great, and we move on with the project. If they don't, they let me know, and I either modify how I respond, or they move on to somebody else.

    Not to brag, but I'm pretty good at it.