Sunday, December 7

A Stolen Quote

Perusing through FLB's blogger, love in the time of global warming, I re-stumbled onto this quote from Alice Flaherty, and fell completely in love. I'm pasting it here, but definitely check it and more out on this (old?) blog from Francesca Lia Block. She has beautiful poetry there that is so worth reading.

“Is it too reductionist then, to suggest that a major reason for creative writing is an abstracted version of the same biological urge that causes you to cry out in sorrow or anger? Let us call it the need theory of self expression. I cry out because some primitive part of me believes that when you cry out, someone warm and helpful comes. What do I need? It is not to have those tiny babies back. They were too small for me to remember; they have vanished like soap bubbles. I have two real children now. Nor do I want to return to the sunny, uniformly lit mental life I used to have, although there are aspects of that life that I miss.

In fact, during my postpartum break, I discovered a mystery: I loved my sorrow. It was as if I had been preparing all my life for that event, that I had entered into my birthright. When I was in graduate school, my husband and I lived in an apartment over a ruined garden that had a grapevine as thick as a child’s body, coiling up the fire escape to my window. At night I could lie in bed and reach out into the dark and pluck grapes to eat. My grief was like that, as if it had given me access to a shadowy world that lies so close to this one that when I concentrated I could push my arm into it and pluck dream fruit. It is a world where beauty cannot be separated from pain, and should not be, as when a scalpel is needed to expose the exquisite organs of the belly. A pen can be a scalpel too. 
I no longer know whether it is my children that I long for, or my sorrow. I have an irrational belief, left over from my sensible past, that if I tell enough people about this knot that is always pulled tight, someone somewhere will be able to loosen it. But my new self needs it always to be pulled tight. I don’t write toforget what happened; I write to remember. There are worse things in life than painful desire; one of them is to have no desire.”

This is from The Midnight Disease, by nueroscientist Alice Flaherty, which, of course, I had to look up. It's a [much debated] scientific look at the compulsion to write that many people feel.
Yeah, obviously I need to read it now. It sounds really neat.
And that many of the negative reviews say it was illogical and disorganized, incoherent and jargon-filled, doesn't hinder my desire to read it-- I like tangent-filled writing and psycho-babble (although it drives the editor in me so crazy) so I'm all in there.
I'll let you know how that goes...

Friday, December 5

What I Want

I want to be an editor. I want to be an editor very, very much.
I want to be an editor because I love words. Some people love art, or movies, or music, or animals, but I love words.

I love words more than I love stories, or libraries, or the smell of old books. What would they be without words? A book is no book without its story, and a good story –whether news or fiction – is nothing without the right words. Words describe and explain, praise and hurt, show love and show pain. Words have power.

I love beautiful words that mean beautiful, whimsical, tragic things. Quixotic. Nyctophilia. Heliophilia. Acatalepsy. Metanoia. Aubade. 
My spell-checker doesn't even know these words, but I do, and I love them.

I love the things we do with words. Poetry. Music. Conversation. Journalism. Even the way typography constantly improves the way words look. And, of course, I like to read and to write. I read epic fantasies and angst-ridden teen novels. I write science fiction and romantic dramas. I break grammar rules. I use comma splices. I love whimsical, experimental poetry where almost nothing makes sense at first glance. These things make me love words more. They make me love to play with them.

But none of these would be worth a thing without the right, beautiful, captivating words.
And although I like to string words together that I hope are right, to make a story I hope is good, I love reading other people's words more. I love editing.

I love growing to understand the choices behind each sentence and fixing them when they don't match up to their purpose. I love reading these stories and connecting-- at a deep, creative level-- with the authors, then helping them find the right words, the right combinations, the right punctuation, format and style, to make it exactly what they want.

I love the creativity. The creation. The challenge.

A perfectly written book may be captivating, but for me it's also boring. Give me a brilliant plot marred with rapid point-of-view switches, pathetic grammar and continuity errors that make you cringe. Give me news stories with terrible spelling and facts that have to be triple-checked and checked again. I love projects I can tear to pieces and rebuild twice as well. I like interpreting faults in each text and turning them into strengths, working with writers, bloggers and creators to make their work the best it can be.

I can break things down to find their core. I can pick out the poignant moments that make a scene glimmer, rise, or fall. Most of all, I can hear the voice. I can hear the way a story halts and stutters and flows. A wonderful story is wonderful, but a wonderfully written story is beautiful.

I'm creative, but practical. Critical, but constructive. Determined and helpful. Insightful and inquisitive. I understand the problems of both readers and writers because I am both. And though I may be a reader at heart, I am an editor by nature, and I can't imagine a single other thing I want to do for the rest of my life.
I am looking for new opportunities in the Editing and Publishing because this is what I want to do. I want to know the industry inside and out. I want to learn the best way to use every word and how to make each one count the most for its writer. How to use punctuation and grammar and style for the absolute best result, and understand when breaking those very rules benefits the writer -- and their readers-- more than they detract from the text itself.

I've spent the last few years doing freelance editing work for independent publishers, writers, bloggers and students. Throughout it all, no bad story, terrible grammar or difficult client -- no challenge at all -- has turned me away from the field.

This is what I want to do.

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