Not just a time to celebrate (and I’ve done plenty of that), I call it my ‘year of learning’. Sure I learnt plenty when I did my Diploma in Professional Writing & Editing. In fact, Letters to Leonardo might not have made it to publication if it hadn’t been for the helping hand and fabulous support of some fantastic writing teachers along the way.
But what I discovered in 2009 is that being accepted for publication is just the beginning of a whole new learning curve. Working with an editor made me feel like I was starting all over again – so much to learn, so much to enjoy. So far to go:-)
I learnt all about developing character, action and reaction, tension, emotion – all the things that are part of practical learning – not things you can get from a classroom, or a book on writing, or an internet tip. They are the things you discover from delving into your own creative resources – from crafting your own work.
They were all good things to learn – all steps towards making me a better writer. But probably my most important lesson for this year – the one that sticks in my mind is that you have to learn to be able to let go of some of the good bits.
You may have written something poetic, technically beautiful, impossibly moving – in fact, it could very well be your best piece of writing yet. But if it doesn’t fit with everything else you have created in your story, it has to go.
If you’re ruthless and honest with yourself, it’s easy to recognise and edit out the clunky bits; to rid your work of ‘was’, ‘started’ and ‘ing’ constructions.
But it’s a lot harder to get rid of those beautiful bits – those words that float off the page – the metaphor that evokes palpable emotion in you.
This year, I discovered you have to learn to recognise that not all the beautiful bits of writing belong.
This is how you tell if your masterpiece really deserves a place in your story. Ask yourself:
- Is it relevant to the plot?
- Does it move the story forward?
- Is it consistent with the character it relates to?
- Have you overused the language eg too many metaphors or similes?
- Does it enhance your writing?
- Does it convey clear meaning?
- Will your reader be as moved by it as you are?
If you can’t answer ‘yes’ to all these questions then I’m sorry to say that it probably hasn’t earned its place in your masterpiece.
I hope you have found this and my other blog posts useful. Please feel free to suggest any topics you’d like me to discuss in the future.
Thank you for sharing my writing journey this year. I hope it may have inspired or helped you in some small way along the road to your own writing successes.
Wishing you a wonderful Christmas, and a safe and happy 2010 filled with many writerly things to celebrate.