installment of One Writer’s Revenge. Authors today live in a brave, new, and
highly schizophrenic literary world. We have accepted this magnificent
electronic age with open arms and trysted with social media as if it were the
hottest of wet dreams. In doing so, however, new age authors have allowed
certain principles and elements—principles and elements that should be held
inviolate—to fall by the wayside. Authors have changed the face of the
profession in the span of a few years and in no small way. In this writer’s
little world of authorship, however, I have endeavored to preserve all facets
of the traditional literary world and have developed a plan, indeed, a fierce
strategy for revenge to protect and defend the profession.
We, as authors, stand alone, made to do so by a set of habits learned under the most brutal of all tyrannies, self-employment as authors. At times, we must be antisocial, segregated outsiders who can talk shop to no more than a handful of people. We must be able to self-motivate, self-start, and meet oft-brutal deadlines all while we savor the idea for the next story on the tips of our tongues. We tolerate more rejection than a door-to-door encyclopedia salesperson in Palo Alto, California and more criticism than a pretentious Broadway playwright does. If you are one of these people, then you, my friend, are a true author.
Social media assuages isolation, but loneliness and rejection steep in the veins of every author at times and have the potential to drive many a great author from pursuing his or her dreams. I know several authors with far more talent than I who gave up and potential readers suffered for it. In order to compensate for what we endure, we seek pleasurable revenge by freeing our imaginations and finding solace in our creativity and knowledge, no matter how trivial, as we labor to bring the reader escapism that he or she might not otherwise have. In addition to dancing in our minds, we find a great deal of reassurance in our peers and equally, if not more so, in our editors.
Editing is essential to the writing process and editors are truly the unsung heroes of the literary world and any author’s life. They work hard to make our work the best that it can be. Developmental editors check manuscripts for an extraordinary number of things such as continuity, information and back-story, redundancy, unanswered questions, and facts, just to name a few. They help flesh out characters, and firm up character and story arcs. A line-editor will check sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, and bring your manuscript up to professional standards. Indeed, work that we revere as great and timeless would be merely viewed as good or, in some instances, fair, without having had the attention of good editors.
By way of example, the Declaration of Independence originally contained the word “subjects.” In an essential draft, Jefferson changed the word to “citizens.” Imagine if the word “subjects” had been allowed to remain in the document. Would not the citizenry have thought that the burgeoning United States was merely replacing one tyranny with another rather than founding a new system of government?
Editors are like movie producers. You don’t notice them until and unless they overreach their power or are conspicuous by their absence. They keep the message clear and well communicated, and have constructed the original concept behind the scenes and contracted all the players. As with the most attractive of Hollywood cast, even the most experienced and successful in our trade needs someone to do hair, makeup, and wardrobe.
Irrespective of genre, the creator left alone can often lose sight of the big picture and will lose the perspective of a virgin reader. Editors ensure there is enough “surface tension” in the words that we as authors pull together from an ocean of ideas. They form perfectly shaped droplets of finished thought and collect them into rivers that represent our and the publisher’s visions. Editors are fundamental, intimate, and priceless to the creative writing process, whose absence will always be noticed and whose excellence is revered.
The sum of this little article trilogy is to say that this writer’s revenge in this digital new age will be to author works which contracts will consistently preserve the almighty and beloved codex; to create a quality and valuable body (of work); and to cherish editors… All while I find solace in freeing my imagination, dancing in my mind, believing in stories no matter how fantastic, and falling in love (or hate) with my characters who might very well base all upon you.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this series of articles as much as I have enjoyed writing them. Comments are always welcome. Happy writing!
you with the below poem entitled A Good Objective Story. My grandfather wrote
it after observing Pulitzer Prize winning sports columnist Jim Murray’s
travails with his notorious editor. Originally published in 1947, it appeared
in Jim Murray’s autobiography (1993). At the time of the poem’s scribing, Jim
was a nascent journalist and his editor, no matter how well Jim wrote and
rewrote a particular news story, was dissatisfied with it because it lacked
“oomph.” Taking up Jim’s cause, my grandfather wrote the poem.
The rewrite man was writing the death, Of a miserable Skid Row whore
From the after effects of a drinking bout, Some two or three weeks before.
The facts were simple and dull and brief, And he had it almost done
When through the air came the raucous voice, Of James H. Richardson.
“On that murder case,” the Great Man said, “You can give it lots of play
“Go into the mystery angle, too, For we’re short of news today.”
The rewrite man gave a startled cry, At the mention of mystery.
And, round-eyed, turned to the desk and said, “Were you addressing ME?”
“Of course,” said the Man, and his voice grew thick, “Some merciless sadist slew
“This innocent child of East Fifth Street, Though he probably loved her too.
“Get into your lead that a ghostly smile, Was pitiful on her face
“And in saying how she was slain, hark back, To the Peete and Denton case.
“And somewhere high in your story, Tell of the marijuana ring
“That made this maid in the seventh grade, A wretched, besotted thing.
“Oh, yes, in your opening sentence quote MacArthur on the Flag
“Ignore the fact that the coroner said, She was a syphilitic bag.
“Write wistfully of the cocktail glass, That broke as her body fell.
“The artist will alter the photograph, Of the gallon of Muscatel.
“Mention a wilted, yellow rose, To tincture it with romance.
“And refer somewhere to an evening gown, Forgetting she wore no pants.
“And that barroom bum she was living with, We’ll call her mystery man,
“And try to mention the Japanese, And communists if you can.
“Get excited about the drama, here, Of passion and crime and greed.
“Write a good objective story, and Get all of that in your lead!
“Give me a take as soon as you can, I want to give it a look.
“But don’t start ‘til you’ve got all the facts, Then hold it to half a book.”
The rewrite man with a ghastly leer, That the Great Man didn’t see
Started again and finished at last, At twenty-five after three.
The climax came the following week, He was gratified to get
The prize for the finest writing, To appear in overset.
MORAL: It served the bastard right, of course, As philosophers will note,
For being a rewrite man at all, When he could have simply cut his throat.
A Good Objective Story, aka The Rewrite Man, ©1947
Aisling is a romance author who lives, most of the time, on the West Coast of the United States. Aisling writes adult fantasy, adult gay erotica, and Young Adult gay romantic fiction, all under pseudonym.
Raised on the mean streets and back lots of Hollywood by a Yoda-look-alike grandfather, Aisling doesn’t conform, doesn’t fit in, and is epic awkward and lives to perfect a deep-seated oppositional defiance disorder. In a constant state of fascination with the trivial, Aisling contemplates such weighty questions as If time and space are curved, then where do all the straight people come from? When not writing, Aisling can be found taming waves on western shores, pondering the nutritional value of sunsets, appreciating the much maligned dandelion, unhooking guide ropes from stanchions, and marveling at all things ordinary.
Aisling doesn’t tumble, pint, yah, goog, or twit (yes, that was intentional), but Aisling does respond to emails and blog postings because, after all, it is all about you, the reader.
You can stalk Aisling and read excerpts of upcoming novels at www.AislingMancy.com. You can also find Aisling Mancy on Facebook and Goodreads and, after years of resistance, introverted Aisling has capitulated and now blogs. Follow features, articles, and events at www.AislingMancy.blogspot.com. Look for Aisling’s upcoming novels: Aeromancer, Shooting Star, and Sleight of Heart.
You can also read excerpts of Aisling’s gay Young Adult works at www.C-Kennedy.com and find Cody Kennedy and C. Kennedy on Facebook and Goodreads, respectively. Look for Cody’s upcoming novels Omorphi (Pretty) and Slaying Isidore’s Dragons.