The reasons for this blog: 1. To provide basic author information for students, teachers, librarians, etc. (Please see sidebar) 2. I think out loud a lot as I work through writing projects, and I'm trying to dump most of those thoughts here rather than on my friends.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

No writing yesterday. I did some w-f-h and turned it in. Now I'm supposed to be doing a second "quick" project, but the w-f-h side of my brain is bone dry of ideas. So I'm going to be bad and work on my own stuff, then tonight I'll try to do the w-f-h. This is stupid, because it means I probably won't finish the w-f-h, when I said I'd have it in today, and because w-f-h pays while my stuff doesn't, at least not in the short run (or in the medium run either, ha!). But I don't care. Anyway, the editors are way behind on their end; they already have a bunch of my stuff sitting on their desks that they haven't had a chance to get to, bless their overworked little hearts.

I saw somebody used the word "polishing" re. a ms recently. I hate that word. I loathe that word. It's a wimpy-ass, delicate little word that bears NO resemblance to what writing is really about. "I just need to give my ms a quick polish, then it's ready to go!" No, it's not, and no, you don't. To me, "polishing" means proofreading, copyediting, and tweaking little things like awkward wording or extra words that are getting in the way and therefore diluting the meanings their sentences and paragraphs are trying to get across.

To me, "polishing" is something you're doing all along. It's second nature; as you rewrite and rethink, you are automatically fixing these things. Your real energy is being used on the important stuff--like not boring the reader, for example. I can't even wrap my mind around "polishing" being an actual step, much less the only one mentioned as writing process.

Thinking about it, probably the reason it bugs me is the way it's usually used. Nobody ever says, "Oh my gawd, I have to sit down and polish this thing before I can get it out." To me it usually has this air of "La-di-dah, I shall polish my ms and then send it out. Look on my polishing, ye poor unwashed masses, and despair."

Okay, yeah, that's it. To me, "polishing" has an aftertaste of "Writing is easy, if you've got the magic." You just write it, polish it, and send it out to acclaim. It's easy to tell people you're polishing--"polishing," after all, is just making something a little prettier. But the truth is, writing for publication is hard and painful, if not devastating. The road to publication is littered with the corpses of writers who were done in either before they sold anything, or after they experienced the debut and aftermath of their first book. So I think the word offends me because it's so light and dainty. When it's the only part of writing mentioned--which it often is, by people who use it--it implies that writing a book is light and dainty work. Which is a big fat effin' lie.

And the lie wouldn't be so bad, except that other writers believe it. They believe that they are the only ones struggling, the only ones doubting, the only ones who can't get it right, the only ones who don't have what it takes.

It's amazing that I can infer so much from one dinky word. But I do it all the time. One word can send me into a ranting frenzy, if it's the right one.

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