February 1, 2009

With The Right Tool in Hand




I love my tool; long and plastic and red, as soon as I had it in my hand I could feel the vibrating energy waiting to be released all over the written word before me…

It may be strange to think of the red pen of editing: our “critiquing pens” as instruments of creativity, but it came to me as I was using it across a particularly fine piece of short story work, that just like a sculpting tool, our red pens chip away from the granite to reveal the best of what the literary artist is creating.

Even though I am still running toward the goal line of being published, my beloved novel held fast in the cradle of my arm; last night as I critiqued, I felt that I was sharing in another person’s creative process. Even though it was not my own, I was like a literary midwife. Actually, there were a few midwives, and we all assisted in the birth of a story-the creation of lives and worlds belonging to characters and places that did not stay in one person’s imagination, but were given a place in the reality of every reader who is privileged to read this story.

That is, after all, what all artists are: creators of scenes, world-builders. Next time your sit with your red pen, breathe in the creative work you do. With each stroke and each suggestion, you open the birth canal so the writer can give life to a story; the most precious gem any of our kind has to offer.

4 Comments:

At February 1, 2009 at 10:07 PM , Blogger Sunny Frazier said...

"Literary Mid-wife" I like that! You have taken the sting out of the red ink. I agree that critiquing serves as a way to chip away at extraneous verbage and produce a story that the writer can be proud of. I have never written a story without input from my peers.

 
At February 3, 2009 at 4:17 PM , Blogger F. M. Meredith, author said...

I belong to a critique group I've belonged to for over 20 years and I couldn't get along without their valuable comments and advice.

http://fictionforyou.com and read the first chapter of No Sanctuary, the latest in the Rocky Bluff P.D. series.

Marilyn

 
At February 5, 2009 at 9:40 AM , Blogger Dorinda Ohnstad said...

I too loved the term "Literary Mid-wife." You have conveyed why seeing red ink all over our work is a positive, not a negative. For me there is nothing better than when a fellow writer offers a suggestion that makes me say "YES!" Why? Because, it makes my story better--more visual and vibrant. Ultimately, it is our story that we want to share with the world and we want it to be as good as it can be. And it doesn't get there without tremendous editing. At least, not when it comes to my writing.

To my fellow critique group members, I thank you. For those of you without the privilege of such a group I have two words--find one. A good critique group, one that will take red pen to your paper and be brutally honest, is invaluable.

 
At March 4, 2009 at 9:43 AM , Blogger June Rodriguez said...

I love your creative way with words. You can make anything come to life. I never thought I would look forward to all that red ink on my pages.

 

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