The elusive art of editing


DSC_0050I think writers come to believe in an innate ability to catch our own errors, spit and polish our work to its very best form, and we do so each time we offer work for submission, contests, or print. This post is yet another chance for me to make editorial mistakes, I know, I know. (Sure, you can point them out to me if you like.)

Truth is, like many artists, poets are just scraping by financially. We cannot afford to hire editors, so we take risks, perhaps believing a little too strongly in our guts, our grammar, and our attentiveness. How hard can it be, we think. Well done, we say. It will be…fine, we whisper as we drift off to sleep having pressed “submit” again, with some hesitation and a little bit of angst.

Deep down we are not entirely sure, but we bravely do what we have to do, which can lead to embarrassing moments. Like the time I spelled the publisher’s surname incorrectly, or saw a clear lack of punctuation upon my 1st read, right after submission! My personal challenges often come in the form of it’s and its, and my deep and abiding love for the Oxford comma that ripples out, abundantly.

Or, most recently, after several months of design, planning, and (several) eyes on every comma, word, line break, title, font, layout, selection of hardware, paper, packaging, and marketing approach, I felt I was finally ready to put my poetry/art books together.

I painstakingly built one hundred copies of the book, tightened each Chicago screw,  placed each stainless steel washer, organized flash card covers into fun and witty combinations, collated stacks of poetry on beautiful cream paper (professionally laid out and printed and drilled with holes for the screws), hand tinted each vintage illustration, and felt a sense of progress and fulfillment at the growing pile of books.

Then I went online to put the finishing touches on the announcement for my book launch. As I typed in the title of my poetry/art book, I felt a niggling. I spell checked a word, and it was correctly spelled…yea, me! But the niggling didn’t go away. And then it hit me…there, blatant, unchecked, WRONG…was a word. On every title page of every book that I just spent days putting together, was a spelling mistake!

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principals

instead of what it should have said;

POETRY PRIMER | a book of elementary principles

ahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!

First anger. Then blaming. Then another hissy fit because it was so OBVIOUSLY WRONG and I missed it…we all missed it… but I MISSED IT! And then the creative problem solving began…what if this, or what if that, in an attempt to save it somehow…but I could not. It was WRONG. It had to change. Then my gratitude to God that I saw the mistake before my book was sold!

Yes, indeed. Gratitude. Two hundred times I unscrewed those Chicago screws. One hundred times I removed the offending page and, after paying my printer a substantial amount of money for a one page reprint, one hundred times I replaced the page with the corrected title page. And then I tightly bound the book with the turn of two hundred more Chicago screws! Editor, I am obviously not. Life learner, yes I am. And my thumb and index finger were throbbing proof!

What would I do differently next time? I don’t know, I run a tight ship, so I still can’t afford an editor. Or, maybe I can? Maybe we could barter something? Or, maybe if I sell all of MY POETRY/ART BOOKS (limited edition, signed, numbered, unique, collectible, fun) I can afford an editor for my next project?

Have you got a copy of POETRY PRIMER yet? If you live in Kelowna, delivery is free!

A human, being, and learning humility,

Lesley-Anne

Far from perfect


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I have no idea why some things happen to me. I do know how they make me feel. In life I try to do the right thing. Perhaps I try a little too hard? Or, maybe I think I’ve got it figured out? Maybe a little bit of self-righteousness creeps in and pride comes before a fall? I can’t really say why it happens. But, suddenly, I blow it, BIG TIME.

I feel shame. There’s a painful knot in my gut. My mind is filled with ridicule. How could I do this? What was I thinking? How can I possibly make it right? Now what? I’ve ruined everything!

I try to make things better, say the right words, apologize, rectify, promise not to do it again… but I just can’t fix it. I can’t rewind the tape and erase my words, my actions, my inaction. Even if the one I hurt forgives me, still I feel condemned. And the situation wraps itself around me in a strangle hold. It’s all I can think of. On and on and on…

FULL STOP! I know a momentary lack of judgement, a word misspoken, or a big ugly mistake, is not the measure of a life. I know there’s more going on when the echos in my head are mean spirited, cruel, cutting, and condemning. I am well aware of a mortal enemy, and his particular way of trying to get at me where it hurts most. He gets personal every time.

So I bring myself and my mistake and my guilt here;

God, please forgive me for what I did, for what I said. Forgive me for hurting one of your kids. Thank you for seeing me as clean and forgiven. Help me to move beyond this. Protect me from the darkness that would surround me and keep me down. Protect me from the evil one who would destroy me. God, fill me with your peace about this situation. Burn a deeper compassion/empathy/grace for others because of my mistake and your forgiveness. Then put everything in it’s rightful place, and allow me to move into your freedom.

And then, I’m done with it. Thank you God, it is done.

SDG, Lesley-Anne