Inspiration and a backlash against Realism

I read a great little article by Writers Edit on staying inspired as a writer. I agree with the author on many of her points. Though I am finding that reading ‘Art Objects’ by Jeanette Winterson is changing my perspective on books reflecting real life. I’m not as convinced by the argument that all writing (fiction) is based on life or should be. Jeanette makes the point that this kind of Realism come from the Victorian era and reflects a backlash against the Romantics who embraced innovation, imagination and art for arts sake. Realism was focused creating fiction that reflected “real life” and had a certain didactic quality that was very socially “responsible” in its message. Jeanette makes the argument that books do not have to be (and shouldn’t) just be a version of everyday life; that novels are in fact not a version of certain facts, but a whole new reality to be entered and understood. In a way she is concerned with what is at the heart of a novel, that it goes beyond just mimicry of life.

A great break down of her book can be found here.

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“Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.”

I’m experiencing a lush mania for researching the roles and types of editors out there. I found a warm, useful little article from Huffington Post regarding myths about editors.

“There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about editors and what they do. Here are seven of those myths that I’d like to clean up:

Myth #1: A good writer doesn’t need an editor.

In these days of self-publication and “service” publishers — who take a percentage of sales for letting the author do all of the work — you hear this a lot. “I’ve slaved over this manuscript for years. I checked it through a hundred times. Microsoft Word’s Spelling and Grammar comes up clean. It’s ready for publication.”

Want an example of a professional book from a world-class author who convinced her publishers to put out the book as-is, without a deep developmental edit (see #3 below)? Look at J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Pretty good book, and it’s sold millions of copies, absolutely — but it’s at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be. There’s needless repetition, uneven pacing, and side-plots that go nowhere. You’ll notice that the previous and subsequent books in the bestselling series were much shorter and much tighter. Rowling worked more closely with her editors.”

The “scary” article published

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It happened very fast! One day I heard back from Lip and they were saying they wanted to publish my piece, the next day it was on their website. It was the fasted ‘submission to print’ process I have ever been involved in. Perhaps because I spend an inordinate amount of work on this article, so it needed very little fixing up.

It’s a little bizarre, having happened so fast though. I spent far too long fretting and feeling doubtful about submitting it but it has taken very little to get it published. My worries meant I had it edited by two semi-professionals and I did an immense amount of re-reviewing myself, which contributed to the piece being good. But I am left feeling a little flat. Most of  that anxiety was misplaced. My impression now is that it mostly hindered me.

Take it from me, unless you are going to be paraded around as a genius once you submit your manuscript, short story or poetry, the months/years of doubt won’t necessarily feel like they have been made up for or balanced out. I’m relived and grateful to be published by Lip. It’s been a small dream and goal of mine since 2012. But I might have felt a bigger high about it though, if I had not spent so long procrastinating over the one article.

Submit sooner, I say.

I did a scary thing…

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I finally submitted an article to Lip magazine. I started writing about a specific issue to do with human sexuality about a year ago. I was encouraged by a great friend who read my ideas on tumblr, to consider publishing. So I fleshed out the ideas and had it looked at by two exceedingly competent editors. I had my friend look at it again too. By that stage he was a lecturer at the University of Canberra and I trusted he could give my work a good polish. That he did! I love a tough but kindly spoken, detailed editor. 

I’ve been re-editing it for far too long. It was the nerves of submitting to a publication I worship that got in my way. But I eventually pushed through that and ended up with a scrupulously scrubbed piece of work. I submitted the article today! I am ridiculously proud of what I have crafted (and hand crafted with care and love, it is). 

I’m feeling positive about how it will be received. But most of all I’m proud that I persisted with this article and through my lack of confidence. 

🙂