Monday, September 26, 2011

Those Who Can, Do. Those Who Can’t…

I have hated all my life the saying “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” It’s horrifically insulting to teachers who are, in my opinion, great shapers of the future. It also doesn’t take into account the altruistic nature of teaching. I think it should be, “Those who can, love their discipline so much they want to share their knowledge, passion and talent with others so that they too can enjoy the subject as much, and thus they teach.”

That said, I’m feeling my own version of the quote coming on. Driving home last night I was struck by the idea that “Those who can, write. Those who can’t, edit.”

I can’t get the thought out of my head.

Since the moment I decided that I wanted to pen a novel I’ve called myself a writer. It’s become part of my identity and self-definition. When people ask, “what do you do?” I say, “I’m a writer.” Lately though, I’m feeling a little like a fraud.

I’ve done very little writing over a very long stretch of time and I’m wondering if I can still even call myself a writer. Do I still have the drive it takes to write a novel? Do I still have the love for crafting? Am I a writer, or just an editor?

I said it. I used “just” when referring to the job of editor.

Editing is essential, every author knows that. We probably do more editing than actual writing on a novel when all is said and done. Producing professional manuscripts requires no less, and nothing makes prose shine so brightly as removing the clutter around it that threatens to drown the beauty of the words.

Editing, though, is not creating.

It is not sitting at the computer grinding out page after page of prose and dialogue and action and heartache. It is not crafting something from nothing, rediscovering the world from an entirely new perspective or taking someone on a journey only your imagination could conceive.

Editing is taking a creation, yours or someone else’s, and working like a scientist on it, analyzing, weighing and measuring. You edit grammar, punctuation, inconsistencies, repetitions… you trim word fat, seek and destroy passive voice, axe adverbs and generally act like a writer’s assistant. A valuable and essential assistant, but an assistant nonetheless.

Have I become an assistant, instead of a writer?

I edit non-fiction for my full time job. In my spare time, which could be used for writing, I somehow find more editing to occupy me. First I worked on my crit partner’s fabulous novel, Wishstone. 100% worth every second of effort spent on it and I’d do that again and again. It was a whirlwind and exciting and I am thankful to have been a part of the whole process. But after that, did I get back to writing?

No. Instead I took on more editing to help me avoid writing. First some editing for Entangled Publishing, next 6 editing tests for Harlequin, each from 50-100 pages long. Then judging a writing contest. Now editing a paper. All good causes, but, is this what I’ve become? An editor, instead of a writer?

And at what point do I have to give up the belief that I am in fact a writer and settle for being an editor?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Writing Prompt #33

I’m sitting in my office on a slow Friday afternoon sipping at a cup o’ soup. Chicken noodle, of course. Why have I resorted to such extreme measures, you ask? I’ll give you a hint:

Mid-morning snack…cornbread
Lunch…more cereal

Guess who hasn’t grocery shopped in far too long. I’m reduced to foraging in my office kitchen…it’s not pretty.

That, of course, led to a prompt!

33) Choose several of your characters and name two foods for them. The first is what they’ve been eating the most of recently. The second is their favorite food/dish. Explain the how or why as you see fit.


Here’s mine:


Most Recently: Protein-packed synth steaks that vaguely remind her of the flesh of a tua-tua fish. The tua-tua fish is native to the oceans of Ordoch and was a staple of her diet back home. It’s traded widely among the Wyrd Worlds but isn’t available even on the black market in the Empire.

This is the first time she’s had access to a fully stocked food synthesizer in five years and she has a hard time stopping herself from gorging on the tastiest, heartiest, most nutrient-rich foods she can program into the thing. It’s not til she arrives on the ship that she realizes she’s been slowly starving for her last five years. She limits herself on the rich dessert menu, but enjoying a healthy diet of lean proteins. When she’s not nabbing yet another serving of the flaky-fleshed synth steak, she’s encouraging Corinth to eat two of everything on the list.

Favorite: I am going with favorite treat instead of favorite dish on this one. It would have to be crystallized honey. Her twin Vayne would purchase the rare sweets for her, often shaped into flowers or polyhedrons, at special occasions. Their luxurious melt-in-your-mouth feel was a delicacy for her.


Most Recently: Malkor and his octet had been enjoying some leave when someone *cough* the emperor *cough*put together a fraudulent holocast of Prince Arden finally calling the Empress Game. With the news reaching every planet in the empire, the damage was done. Arden, Malkor and Isonde thought they could take their time finding a body-double for Isonde before they called the game. Instead, they’re in a mad-scramble to find someone who fits the bill before the commencement of the Game.

Malkor called his octet in to help, and together they did a blitz-style study of possible candidates from the more obscure planets, burning the candle at both ends and rushing the search. As a result, Malkor has been downing caffeinated quiox of the non-synthesized variety by the liter.

Favorite: Anything real. He’s not particular about his food and he’d take simple fare over scrumptious, delicately programmed synth-food any day. Especially fresh fruits and vegetables. Not synthesized, not flash-frozen, not dehydrated or reconstituted, but fresh from the vine/bush/tree/plant, so-ripe-it’s-juicy, worth-every-exorbitant-credit-on-Falanaar, I-just-picked-it-this-morning fruit.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Writing Prompt #32

I’m waiting in the airport to head home from vacation and thought I’d grab the time to write a quick prompt. I visited the south for the first time in my life really, excepting a short stint into Disney World. We were ensconced deep amid the Spanish moss on Edisto Island, SC, and the vegetation was as beautiful as it was intriguing. This, of course, leads to a prompt about setting!

Your character arrives in previously unknown setting, how do they perceive it? This can be a foreign land, another planet or something only as exotic as another person’s bedroom. All that matters is that your character has never seen this “world” before.


Here’s mine

Isovien kept her eyes tightly shut as the residual energy of the teleportation spell washed through her, grounding her hard in the Alliance base in the Arathi Basin. The last of the magic shivered its way out of her skin. She opened her eyes to the sound of the company reorganizing itself around her. The clatter reverberated against the bare planks of the staging shack they stood in. Absent was the usual banter, replaced by the creak of buckles being drawn tight against leather armor and swords sliding in and out of scabbards as they were checked and rechecked for readiness.

Isovien turned her attention to the League of Arathor’s stronghold. If such a collection of uneven and badly laid planks forming floor, walls and ceiling could be called a stronghold. Rain ran in along a gaping seam on one side. The stained boards there were already growing a snowflake-patterned mildew design. She pulled her cloak a little tighter against her and shifted away from the rat droppings lining one wall.

The captain clomped down hollow stairs and she followed him out, anxious to escape the mustiness of the shack before it permeated her gear. Mist dusted her blonde hair. She crossed the grassy yard, the beaten leather of her leggings stained darker by her passage through a stand of wildflowers. The knights-captain’s eager readiness came up hard against the iron scrollwork encircling half a league of graves.

“Here,” he said, eyes shining with purpose as he pointed down the hill. “That’s our first objective.”

She turned at his voice and got her first look of their battlefield.

It was surprisingly serene in the watery late-afternoon light. Sporadic paving stones made a path from the stronghold down to what looked to be a stable.

(That’s as far as I got)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Writing Prompt #31

I feel like I've been up to my eyeballs in editing lately, and I haven't written in two weeks. I love editing, but too much looking at other people's work is driving a need in me to actually create something for a change.

No work on EG just yet since I don't have the time to delve deeply enough into it, but I did snatch a few minutes for an impromptu prompt!

It's a dose of fan fic free writing. Choose your favorite novel, shared world, video game, what have you, and write something set in it.


Here's mine:

Isovien sat astride her mare in the shallow depression sunk into the hills of the Arathi Highlands that housed the outpost known as Refuge Pointe. Things were still in the pre-dawn light. Jiahana’s hooves clomping on the ground as they’d entered camp and the faintest jingle of her tack had been the only sounds on their arrival.

Isovien preferred it that way.

She ducked farther into her hood against the chill fog that wreathed the hollow and scanned the lean-tos for a place to rest. The onus of her new assignment was an uncomfortable weight on her shoulders that she couldn’t shrug off, and the bitter taste of resentment lingered on her tongue. More than anything she needed a moment to herself. Time to brace herself for the indefatigable optimism of the League of Arathor knights. Time to hide her disappointment and frustration. Time to assume the guise of enthusiasm and cheery determination necessary for her new role as medic to the defenders.

She spotted an unoccupied berth at the end of a row and led Jiahana there. She tethered the mare to the nearby post, retrieved her bedroll and ducked inside the tent. They’d discover her arrival soon enough, but for now she wanted her last moments of silence and peace. She wrapped herself in her cloak, keeping her head covered, and curled up on her bedroll.

(I wrote more on this prompt, check my "comments" farther down on this thread to see the rest)