the end, continued…

The final final final final (ha!) part of my editing process:

    • Swept the front of my house and plucked my eyebrows with the notion that if I need to put my best foot forward then I better remove the chipped toenail polish first. (Paranoia setting in: They can see me through my writing, can’t they? See me clear as a picture, I bet….)
    • Dusted, consolidated all my piles into one corner, cleaned out the refrigerator, and shaved my legs just in case the paranoia is justified.
    • Talked via Skype about writing with Ré Harris of Sparks in Shadow who gave me some fabulous ideas for how to improve my first two chapters (thank you so much, kind friend with the beautiful voice).
    • Sent my query letter to Laurel Hermanson who gave it a total makeover (deep gratitude to you, friend-I’ve-never-met.)
    • Fidgety and shifty-eyed, with no other messes to clean, I played with a tarot deck and some i ching coins to try to determine the most auspicious day for querying.  Because who knows?!  And I’ll try anything at this point.

Did you ever receive help from a stranger?

What does your editing process involve?

Are you ever done editing?

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About Anna Fonté

Girl in the Hat, aka Anna Fonté, is an author who writes about invisibility, outsider status, everyday monsters, and her attempts to befriend the neighborhood crows. The things she writes want you to look at them.

17 comments

  1. We are editing the story of our lives every day, till the Final Cut!

    Mike

  2. Anna, are you sitting here behind my desk? After 4 years of writing and rewriting, I’m approaching the end and getting very close to the query process. And last week I spent an hour with a psychic who had all manner of crazy shit to say. I admit I’m a skeptic. I’m a skeptic about pretty much everything, so the reading of my cards and my mind are no different. But I like this lady. It was fun. And best of all I drew the Ten of Pentacles — how could I be unhappy about that?!

    • We must be riding sister horses on the merry-go-round. I too am a steadfast skeptic but I always leave a window open, just in case. I just looked up your card and did a little chair-dance for you. If it means anything, it means something good, for sure. Teri, how do you know it’s ready? That’s what I want to know.

      • It’s never ready. I’ve not finished a whole book yet, but what I know about sending the short pieces out into the world is this: it’s done when I can read it as “not myself,” as someone who doesn’t look at it like “writing” anymore but as its own entity, completely separate from me.

  3. Beautiful voice? Me? Oh wait, what was that I learned a while back … oh yes … Thank you, Anna. I appreciate your kind words. And I’m glad I could be helpful. I had a burst of writing energy Late Saturday night, when ways to address things you pointed out in my story became clearer. Thanks for giving me a new way to look at the way I structure a story.

    I know I’ve had at least a little help from strangers in my life, but all I can remember right now is the man who helped me cross one of the bridges across the river downtown. I couldn’t see the thin sheet of ice over it, and I’m one of those people who can’t walk on ice unless it’s very well pitted, not smooth. I got stuck about an eighth of the way in and couldn’t move one way or the other. Just before I thought I might swallow my pride and try to scoot my way back, a man offered me his arm and took me all the way across even though he was going in the other direction. That was a very cool moment.

    I do most of my editing as I go along. Then I try to let it sit until I can see the words again and edit some more. Somewhere around then I don’t trust my eyes so much. I hate that point. The one thing (besides a scathing review) that I fear about publishing, is that I have to commit to an edit.

    What did the Tarot tell you? I’m curious.

    • I’m so glad you’re writing. While you’re at it, perhaps you should write a story about the man who helped you across the ice. My big girl and I played Tarot and I drew the star card, pictured above. As usual, it did not answer my question directly, but this answer filled me with confidence. I see Tarot as a tool for helping you access what you know already. You do have a surprisingly lovely voice.

  4. I hear so much positive stuff in blog surfing. I guess that is help from strangers. I just tweeted a Huff post article about all us writing geniuses are nuts. It was very comforting. And I only edit until it sounds right to me. I can’t write for a market. Obvious since I sell so few. Keep us (me) posted on your query process. All the advice I got was wrong and all the people I queried were apparent wrong choices since none appreciated my artistry. Yours has already been noticed. That makes you a professional don’t you think? I used to be a fanatic about the I Ching.

    • I will definitely keep us all posted. I think of this as an interesting experiment. Like I said, we’ll make a game of it. Who answers? Who doesn’t bother? How long does it take? What kind of horrible words do they use to let me down easy? I’ve done this several times before, so I won’t be surprised, and I’ll share it all. Vicarious experiences are important to us writer-types.

  5. The toughest part of the editing process for me to learn was the time factor. Patience, to be exact. My tendency is to think a piece is finished and rush it out to journals or agents without letting it sit for a while. I’ve started to let pieces ferment for a few weeks or months before going back to revise. It has made a huge difference in terms of my personal perspective, and in reaction from readers and editors. It’s still difficult, of course, because usually one is excited about an idea and about seeing it finished, but for me at least, the right amount of time makes the work so much stronger.

    • This is excellent advice, Joe. I did jump the gun on this one once before, and wished I’d waited. This time, I know that I can’t do anything more on my own. I’m ready to move on. I think that’s as close to “done” as I’m going to get.

  6. I edit similar to the way you do… I clean. : )

  7. I received such generous help from a stranger that I’ll probably credit him in my book without ever knowing his name. I wouldn’t be writing at all if not for his encouragement.

  8. I can’t imagine writers can ever stop editing. At least with a drawing you physically can’t do more without causing physical damage (rubbing away the paint, or just botching it) but I have a constant temptation to revise old crappy blog posts. And no one even reads those. It must be maddening for an actual writer.

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