Writerly Requirements

Writing full-time is the fulfillment of a dream. I have the unabashed joy of spending my days making stuff up (for which I heartily thank you, my dear reader). But occasionally into this idealistic existence, some less than ideal activities descend.  Copy-edits are one of them.

In some ways, it’s a nice break from plowing the virgin page with a new story. It gives me a chance to revisit something I wrote months ago and have half forgotten. I appreciate the dedicated professionals who scrub my prose and help make my work the best it can possibly be.

But sometimes, a copy editor is intrusive. He/she may not know period slang or other language usage that provides the flavor of the time period in which my story is set. Sometimes, it’s more than a spelling/grammar correction. Sometimes words are changed, strangling my voice. Occasionally, an entirely foreign sentence will appear in the manuscript, glaring up at me like a cuckoo’s egg.

Another writing duty that comes my way is providing my editor with a one-two page synopsis to be used internally by marketing to assist them in selling the story to the buyers. (Not to be confused with readers. The buyers are the ones who decide what titles will appear on the shelves and in what quantities.) Reducing a 400 page story to one or two, including all the essential plot points, complications and resolutions while also delivering a taste of my “voice,” is a little like sinking all the pool balls in a single lucky shot.

So today, after I play with my new hero for as long as it takes to hit my page count, I’ll crack open the copy edits. Later this evening, I’ll continue to reread the manuscript I have to shrink to a mini-synopsis. For a few more days, I’ll be juggling these extra balls, but please don’t think I’m complaining. I love my job! If the Prize Patrol rolled up to my building tomorrow, I’d still make stuff up. That’s how much I love writing. I meant this post as a peek into some of the things an author is required to do besides creating a new story.

How about your job? Are there things about it you enjoy less than others? If the Prize Patrol visited your house, would you still do it?

6 thoughts on “Writerly Requirements

  1. Bebe Bettis says:

    Please, please, Prize Patrol, come visit me :) I do love teaching, but I’d love even better to be able to write full time–although I’d have to do serious motivational work to adapt to all that ‘free’ time. I seem to produce best–or at least most–under deadlines.

    Thanks for the peep into your writing process. It is a little reassuring to know multi-pubbed authors face the same challenges in producing the mini-synopsis that many of us not-yet-pubbed face with creating blurbs, etc.

    (I love playing with my hero, too :)

    Oh, and I do like your new website.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks, Bebe! I’ve always given myself a deadline even before I published. I figured eventually I’d have to produce under pressure, so why not practice sticking with a writing schedule? A looming deadline does have a way of focusing the mind.

      Synopses are a deadly fact of life. Not everyone at a publishing house has time to read every book they publish, but a short synopsis gives them enough info to give my book a push to buyers. I want them to fall in love with the premise.

  2. Hi Mia–this is interesting peek at the ins and outs of your writing days! I think having this type of variety is important in any job. Without the tasks we enjoy least, we wouldn’t be cracking our knuckles to get back to the ones we like best. Maybe this sounds Pollyanna, but I do feel it in my own workdays.

    If the Prize Patrol visited my house, I’d keep writing as much as I could. I’m pretty compulsive (*understatement alert*), and writing is what makes me feel satisfied with my accomplishments for the day.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      You’re right, Theresa. We need variety.

      Going over copy edits and writing a taut synopsis is a like singing scales. You have to limber up the pipes to sing an aria. I’ll look at these tasks as exercises to warm up my writing fingers.

  3. Plowing the virgin page? I love it. *grin*

    I’m with you, doll. I love what I do. I could win the lottery or strike oil and I’d still write.

    I was talking retirement with some of my rl friends and they couldn’t believe I didn’t have a list of things I want to do when I retire. I don’t plan on retiring. I plan to write until my fingers fall off and I’m thankful for every day I get to sit down and spill the colors from my imagination all over the page. :)

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Writing is a freeing experience isn’t it, Saranna? I love the way your colors spill. ;-)

      I have a list of things to do when the DH retires–a veritable cornucopia of delightful adventures for us to share–but writing will always figure prominently in my days.

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