Today as a special Writerly Wisdom Wednesday, I have guest poster, Jonathan Lister, JTP's newest debut novelist! I asked for an article on writing & Mr. Lister cracked me up by titling the post, "Why I Hate Articles About Writing."
teee heee hehehehe
Take it away, Jonathan!
Your Editor is a God: Why I Hate Articles about Writing
I can’t stand articles written by writers about writing – except Stephen King. I’ll read any scrap of insight a man with 34 bestsellers has to offer. Mr. King, if you’re reading this (and I know you’re not), call me. Outside of the scribe-who-would-be-king from Maine, the rest of us sound artificially inflated when talking about the craft, or the publishing process. We drone on about voice, about storytelling, about (yawn) character. Nothing specific mind you, only vague notions of attitude and how to slog through the early drafts with a smile and borderline alcohol dependency. Words. Pretty words all in a row. What has publishing taught me about all this flimflam? What deep insight have I gleaned that I might impart?
Shut the hell up and get back to work.
Writing is not a Career it’s a Passion
The work is all there is. Even on the days when the rejection letters obscure the past-due notices on your desk, you still need to mine the edit requests and conjure a flourish to end the chapter. One more paragraph. Cut a handful of adjectives that clatter and clunk on the page. Replace them with the kind warbles you heard from an old woman at the grocery store last Sunday. That’s the publishing process – the mode outside the inspiration and the growing pains. It tests your resolve, but it emboldens you’re passion.
Because darlin, if this ain’t what you love, an editor will squeeze the writer right out of you. An Exorcism via 12-point Times New Roman.
I know we all like to think the words we slap down on the page are the exact way God intended them to be, but I promise you, there’s a higher power at work, and your editor communes with them. Their perspective is invaluable to the direction of your narrative; indeed, in shaping how you tell the story in your head and present the characters you’ve created. Without editing, and an editor who’s just as invested in the book as you are, the whole ship will scuttle in the harbor.
Think of Your Editor as a Gift
And how much does this integral cog in your toolkit cost you? Nothing. Your publisher provides him or her (or multiples) at no cost you – it’s free. You could argue that the price is tangled up somehow in your royalties, but we’re not here to talk accounting. The point is the publisher of your book is just as invested in its success as you are, or at least they had better be. That editor or editorial team is in place to weed whack your manuscript and shred all the unnecessary bits. Y’know, the little asides and italics in the narrator’s head that you just love but ultimately do little to advance the narrative. They make the hard choices, and your book is better for them in the long term.
Having any company express interest in your creative work is a massive honor. It’s something every writer works toward, and what no writer should take for granted. I’ve learned we’re only as good as the work, the play on the page, so no more talk.
I’ve got work to do.
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A Demos City Novel
Release Date: Nov. 4, 2013
Publisher: J. Taylor Publishing
Book Blurb: Werewolf. Bar bouncer. Dad. Standard traits for any self-respecting, reformed criminal, living under the radar in Demos City. For Leon Gray, normal is what he wants — for himself and his not-yet-changed teenage daughter.
Playing bodyguard to crusading reporter David Hastings would totally ruin Leon’s peace, especially since Hastings has hired killers on his trail, pros who know how he takes his espresso in the morning, and where Leon lives.
The payoff, though, would fill up Shauna’s empty college fund, and in a battle between opportunity and ordinary, money wins. He just has to keep Hastings alive long enough to cash the check.
If only he didn’t have to save his daughter, too.
As a budding wolf, she’s piqued the interest of a local pack Alpha — one Leon knows will steal Shauna right out from under him the first chance he gets.
Leon isn’t about to give up on his daughter or Hastings, and will fight for both longer than it took Demos City to see werewolves as equals to humans.
He can only hope it doesn’t take a thousand years.
Breaking a beer bottle over someone’s head rarely knocks them unconscious. Oh, it’s going to hurt like hell, probably make a good-sized gash in the scalp but hardly ever just a quick dose of shut-eye. What they’ll end up with is a wound that looks a lot worse than it actually is. The best an opponent can hope for is the element of surprise and the moments of disorientation that the hit causes. If the bastard is serious about it, he can use the jagged edges of broken glass to do some real damage. A shame this isn’t a Western. When a beer bottle connects with a cowboy’s head in one of those old movies, he hits the floor in a few seconds.
I’m not a cowboy. I’m something else.
“Gray! Watch out!” Jenny shouts from behind the bar, but I already know Frank is coming. Guy lost his job last week—ten years as a call center supervisor. He’s been in here every night since. Now he’s drunk enough to think I’m the reason his company shipped his job off to the Philippines.
It’s taking him forever to swing that damn bottle at me; I’m getting bored.
He’s harmless on most nights, talks a lot about how he’d like to blow up his old work, but ends up passing out in his car. People in front of me are pointing and shouting over the din of music and bar talk, obviously trying to warn me. It’s the whiskey’s fault Frank is coming after me. That doesn’t mean I can make an exception. Everyone in here knows the rules, knows what’s coming.
The bottle connects with the back of my head and shatters. I don’t move. Broken glass sticks in my hair, even draws some blood. I let the pain run down my back along with the cheap beer and hold my breath until the shouting sting fades to a grumbling throb.
Yep—hurts like hell.
“Fuck you, Leon!” Frank shouts. His breath is acrid and brimming with rye as it washes over my neck. Its scent tells me how much alcohol is in his blood. In all the movies Frank has ever probably seen, it’s only supposed to take one hit, so I know he’s is waiting for me to fall down. In fact, he’s probably praying I fall because no way he’s got a next move planned.
A bar that was roaring with life a moment ago is all spectators, front-row seat types. Most everyone in here knows me, knows what I am. Frank does, too; it’s why he needs to quit the whiskey. The pool tables are quiet. No one’s playing darts, not even bringing glasses to their lips. There are no footsteps on the hardwood floors. The customers are all a mixture of bloodlust and pity, waiting to see what my first move is going to look like. The bell sounds in my head as I turn around.
This is the fun part of my job.
Author Bio: Jonathan Lister is a full-time writer with work appearing in outlets of USA Today, The Houston Chronicle and many others. A graduate of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, he’s waited an unspeakable amount of tables en route to having the career he wants, and the ability to the tell stories he loves. Crossroads: a Demos City Novel is Jonathan’s first book-length work of fiction. He currently lives in the Philadelphia area and continues to drink too much coffee.
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