Quote It! Writing and Editing

maugham460“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”

–Somerset Maugham, 1874-1965, British playwright, novelist (Of Human Bondage) and short story writer.

Cherryh_CJ“It is perfectly okay to write garbage—as long as you edit brilliantly.”

–C.J. Cherryh, a United States science fiction and fantasy author who has written more than 60 books since the mid-1970s, including the Hugo Award winning novels Downbelow Station (1981) and Cyteen (1988).

This is one of the things I love the most about writing and editing–the complementary nature of the two skills. As an editor, I never think, How can I change this piece of writing?

No, it’s more a question of How can I polish the gems already here to help them sparkle as brightly as they can? As a team, writers and editors don’t work for each other, they work for the reader–without whom, the best writing and editing is for naught.

Your turn: How do you prefer to work with an editor?

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Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Mike-9Michael loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Quote It! Brian Tracy

brian_tracy-standing
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” 

–Brian Tracy, Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.

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Writers, we know what Tracy says is true. But sometimes the fear of feeling awkward–or of having someone read what we’ve written–keeps us firmly in our comfort zone of “me and my writing friends.”

But God did not save you for a life of comfort, but rather for a life of risk. What are you willing to risk to allow God to use you?

RonieKendigSpeaking of something new: Come back on Tuesday for the debut of a new feature here at Writing On The Fine Line. We’ve talked a lot about what editors (primarily me) think about editing, but on Tuesday my friend, and author, Ronie Kendig, shares her experience with editing and editors.

It’s very interesting–and there will be a great giveaway you won’t want to miss!

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Quote It! Billy Joel

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. billy-joelIt’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

–Billy Joel, who so far has had 33 Top 40 hits in the United States, all of which he wrote himself, is also a six-time Grammy Award winner, a 23-time Grammy nominee, and has sold more than 150 million records worldwide.

As a writer, I’ve always felt a connection with music. It plays while I write, heck it plays while I’m not writing. There have been times in my life, when God has ministered to me through music.

And like Joel, I believe music has healing properties. I’ve seen how music has revitalized the elderly in nursing homes–how it has comforted those who are bereft. I’ve experienced being brought back from the edge by a favorite song, or a favorite memory my brain links to when that song plays.

Music routinely ushers me into the presence of God. “Revelation Song” by Jesus Culture, for instance. Both Coram Deo projects by Charlie Peacock, or the City On A Hill projects by Marc Byrd, Steve Hindalong, and Derri Daugherty, also do it for me.

But it’s not just music from the Christian genre: “Misty” by Johnny Mathis, “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, and “Empire State of Mind” by Alicia Keys have gripped my heart and inspired me.

How has music affected your life? Do you listen while you write?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Quote It! Ray Bradbury

Ray_Bradbury“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

— Ray Bradbury, recipient of the 2000 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, the 2004 National Medal of Arts, and the 2007 Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Renowned author of Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. (1920-2012)

I don’t think it’s possible to underestimate the importance of reading–not only for personal growth, but for the benefit of our society-at-large. Saw some disturbing reading statistics from 2012 today:

  • 56%: Young people who claim they read more than 10 books a year. (That’s not even one a month.)
  • 33%: U.S. high school graduates who will never read a book after high school. (Never. As in no more books their entire life.)
  • 42%: College students who will never read another book after they graduate. (It’s getting worse.)
  • 80%: U.S. families that did not buy a book this year. (Can it get worse?)

If you are a reader, good for you! According to the same study, if you read only 15 minutes a day you expose yourself to 1 million words annually. All of those words help keep your brain nimble–and a nimble brain is a good thing!

What are your thoughts on reading and our culture?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Quote It! Robin Williams

RobinWilliams“You’re only given a little spark of madness, you mustn’t lose it.”

– Robin Williams, Academy Award-winning actor (Best Supporting Actor, Good Will Hunting, 1997) and multiple Grammy-winning performer

Regardless what you think of Robin Williams’ body of work (I think it is mostly hilarious), it can’t be argued that he ever lost his “spark of madness.” From the early days of his fame, appearing as the alien Mork in a multiple-story arc on the television show Happy Days, through Mrs. Doubtfire and Awakenings, he has consistently sparked.

That spark, which he urges us to never lose, is what makes him–and more important, his work–memorable. He isn’t afraid to push beyond merely funny to borderline manic (remember the Genie in the Walt Disney flick Aladdin?).

A creative person’s “spark of madness” doesn’t have to be comedic. Stephen King’s spark may be his ability to see, and imagine, scary things within the perfectly mundane. Patsy Cline’s spark may have been her talent for inhabiting the songs she sang.

I’m not sure what mine is. It may be seeing gold where others see only tin. Regardless, our “spark”, I think, is where we are most fully using our gifts–with abandon!

What’s your “spark of madness”?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Michael Ehret loves to play with words and as editor of the ACFW Journal, he is enjoying his playground. He also plays with words as a freelance editor right here at WritingOnTheFineLine.com, where he often takes a writer Into The Edit, pulling back the veil on the editing process. He has edited several nonfiction books, played with words as a corporate communicator, and reported for The Indianapolis Star.

Quote It! James Scott Bell

“Every hour you spend writing is an hour you don’t spend worrying about your writing.”

–James Scott Bell, at the 2009 Christian Writers Seminar, as quoted by Beth Thompson here. Bell is the No. 1 bestselling author of Plot & Structure, and thrillers like Deceived, Try Dying, and One More Lie. Under the pen name K. Bennett he is also the author of the Mallory Caine zombie legal thriller series, which begins with Pay Me in Flesh.

Do you worry about your writing? Isn’t that like asking a Mom if she worries about her kid? I know I sure do.

I worry I’m not writing enough (almost certainly true). That I’m writing too much (though I don’t worry about that often). I worry if it’s good enough (it’s not), if my characters are likeable (some are), and if I’m totally wasting my time (please, God, tell me ‘no’).

Sometimes my worrying is paralyzing. And that’s where I fall back on the sentiment in this quote. But you have to make a conscious decision to set aside worrying in favor of writing. If you don’t, or can’t, your success will be limited.

As a writer, what is your biggest worry? How do you set it aside?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line

Quote It! William Faulkner

“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately, I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”

William Faulkner, (September 25, 1897 – July 6, 1962) was an American writer, Nobel Prize laureate, and Pulitzer Prize winning author.

Such a key principle it hardly needs unpacking. Yet, finding and holding on to that kind of dedication and commitment is a common problem for many writers.

I tend to subscribe to the theory that writer’s block, as romantically understood, does not exist. It’s much more likely, in my experience anyway, that the writer is afraid that what he writes is not “good enough.”

And he’s right.

But that doesn’t mean you don’t get it down anyway. As a wise friend once told me, “you can’t fix what’s not on the screen.”

What do you think?

Michael Ehret, for Writing on the Fine Line