Monday, April 21, 2014

Read a Lot - Write a Lot

       Read a post earlier today in which a writer said they didn’t read much, not before they became a writer or after. Seems strange to me that someone would write but not read much. Claimed they didn’t have the time. I believe writers need to find the time. Many writers read a whole lot more than I do, but I do manage more than 50 books a year. But I also read, maybe too many, blogs, magazines and newspapers. Some days I read so much I get no writing done, none at all.

Stephen King, who has sold a few books himself, once said. “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”

My problem is I read too much, and write too little. But I have other income, outside of writing, and do not consider myself a full time writer. I do have a small income from my editing service and from the sale of a few small pieces each year.

Love Wyoming Sunsets - Easter Sunday, Guernsey State Park
I will self-publish three books this summer and see if my writer earnings jump afterward. Not expecting a move into a higher tax bracket, but as someone once said, “you never know.”

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Professional Edit or Not

How many times do I need to write the same book? Have you, like me, ever asked that question? I have a novel that I have went through six times and am still not willing to attempt to publish it. Why? Because it is not ready. No, not because the book sucks. I feel like it is a very good story. But it needs work. What have I learned by this process, two things?

The best edit is still with a red pen on paper. The last edit is reading the text of the work aloud. I have edited, to death, on the computer and still recommend it for the first go through. On my new work I used a red pen edit for my second edit, a red pen edit by someone else for my third edit and a read through, oral edit for my final.

No professional edit? I don’t think so, not for these works. I may seek additional input from another outside, non-professional, editor but have decided to go it on my own. I have published numerous short stories and at times, must admit, when I read the published version, I found something I wish I had edited, either more or better.

Why all this? I tried, in vain, to find a professional editor and could not. They charged too much or too little, wanted to change too much or too little. Makes me sound a bit like Goldilocks from, The Story of the Three Bears, I just couldn’t find a, just right, fit.

Will it work? Not sure. Remember in the old days when people said, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”? Guess I will find out. I spent years doing content edits and rewrites for graduate students while teaching in Laramie, but never edited grammar or punctuation unless it was so bad even I could see it. Until a year ago I still did some editing for two print magazines.

View of my little part of the world from Roundtop Mountain, three miles from town.
There is my unedited story about editing. My conclusions, do it the best you can, or until you feel good about it, then be done with it.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Cowboy Coffee

Have you ever ran across something that just doesn’t sound right? I read, not as much as I used to, about a book a week. Twice in the last five or six books I have had a cowboy ask for a cup of Java. Java, really?
Maybe some used the term, I live in Wyoming, have for decades, never have heard anyone ask for Java. Not very cowboy like. Now I live in modern times, so maybe it was different a hundred years ago but I don't think so. I did a quick search and could not find when the word Java was first used as slang for coffee. Someone in the old west may have asked for a cup of Java but my money says he was on vacation wearing a three piece suit with a gold watch chain and came to town on the train.

Cowboys liked their coffee, drank a lot of it. They drank it black and they drank it sweet. Wanna make your cowboy into a real cowboy, have him ask for a cup of Arbuckle's. Arbuckle’s Ariosa to be exact, but no one asked for it that way.