Sunday, October 29, 2017

Humility and Pride

I had a great conversation with a student today about balancing pride and humility. I teach art and, though not every person feels pulled to artistic expression, everyone is capable of producing something they're proud of. You have to take the time, be patient with yourself and be mindful. The finished work may not be a master work, but it can be something you step back, look, and say, "I did that!" with pride.

Getting to that point, however, takes humility. Without humility we cannot grow. Humility opens us up to learn new things. I'm not talking about modesty or self-deprecation, but the real understanding that tomorrow can be better if you let it.

I think we get socially trained to be overly modest about accomplishments as if being proud of yourself is wrong. For many people it is difficult to honestly say, "thank you" when you receive a compliment. Many will deflect anything positive with something self-deprecating. I understand that not everyone may not believe positive words about themselves, but they need to give the bestower of the compliment the benefit of the doubt that they believe it, that they are sincere. Shrugging away those kind words is not only rude to yourself, but to them.  It's taking humility too far and making it harmful.

So, from my bounty of wisdom, I'm here to say that you have to balance the humility and pride. Pride alone is unhealthy--as is humility, sin and virtue aside. It's the combination that will lead to growth and self acceptance. This will end up on an inspirational poster someday. Probably with a puppy.

Where the heck is all this coming from?
Well, I'm dealing with positive reinforcement from my publishing house and quelling the urge to point out my flaws and fighting my humility when I should have allowed myself to be proud. I'm also dealing with line edits and finding out rules about grammar/punctuation I didn't know (and I used to teach English!). With the line edits, I had to fight my stubborn pride and absolute belief I was right and learn something new.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Being a Writer

I am just about to send my edited manuscript back. At this point I'm going over it again and again to see if I missed anything and to clean up the new content.

Receiving the edits made the fact that I'm going to be published finally become real. As I work toward applying the edits, I feel like I'm working toward a real goal. It makes it feel like a legitimate job and not something weird I do alone when I have time.

Writing had become almost a burden. If I wasn't writing then I was giving up. If I was writing, it was hard to justify why I was taking the time to write a story when I could be doing productive things like laundry. I had so many stories in my head, but either the story or the writing had some flaw I didn't understand, something about it that made it not viable. It's hard to motivate yourself to write despite that.

I would tell myself that the fact that I started and finished books was an achievement in itself and I didn't need validation from external sources. While I still felt good about what I had accomplished, I must have needed that validation because it was becoming harder and harder to write.

As I do edits for Courtly Pleasures I can see the finish line on this project. It restores my optimism (or insanity) for my writing and my faith in myself. New stories are percolating. Old stories with kinks are resolving themselves.

I'm excited about writing, about being a writer, again. Of course I'm excited about Courtly Pleasures being published but, more than that, I'm excited about the next story and how it might unfold.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Applying Edits

My experience with the first round of edits was...
Scary? No, not once I got the document. The worst part was the anticipation.
Exhilarating? No, it was just a job I had to do.
Insulting? Not at all. There were changes to be made and I made them. I wasn't offended. I suppose I could have been, but the editor always explained her thought process. Hey, it's all about putting the best version of your book out there and that means honest critique and collaboration.

I received a Word doc full of tracked changes and comments. 90% of my job was to accept the deletion/insertion of the tracked changes. This included a format change here, an 's there, an m dash changed to an ellipses, etc... All little things.

The editor also noted story inconsistencies or times when more explanation was needed. A few new scenes requested, a few scenes deleted. Everything she said made sense to me. None of it was insulting to my word baby or my ego. The challenge for me was to hold the history teacher in me in check when I was asked to explain some of the social norms or the roll of nobles and gentry at Queen Elizabeth's court. I had to severely edit myself to address specific questions.

I was nervous about the edits, but they've been smooth. I understand the expectations and that is more cut and dry than trying to write a book in the first place.

The next step is line edits. I like to think it won't be too messy. I'll let you know.

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