No. I am not here to answer the age old question as to why a raven is like a writing desk. Simply put, I don't know. Do you? I have heard the theories. But I digress. Today I would like to discuss:
Editing is similar to refurbishing a writing desk.
Late last year I decided that I needed a new writing desk. Being on a tight budget, I looked around in the local op shops and finally found a timber desk with bookshelves for $10. Yay! I was so excited. It had good ‘bones.’ I could imagine what it would look like with a new stain and varnish; the drawers with fancy new handles; the bookshelves lined with children’s picture books… and one day... my own books. It was all so glistening and shining and looking wonderful... in my mind.
Yes, there were stickers to be peeled off. Lots of stickers. Someone at some point had decided that boring holes in the top of the desk was a good idea, as well as gouging out a nice big hole on the edge of the desk. There were many scratches and imperfections. So I set to work.
Now to the bit where doing up a writing desk is like editing.
You’ve finished your first draft of your manuscript. You step back and take a good hard look at it. Ahh! There are some plot holes, some characters that need work. And what’s this? The pivotal scene that you thought you wrote is not even in there, or it just doesn’t seem to fit anymore. Whole entire chapters could be taken out and no-one would even know. Some things don’t flow logically. There may be too much back story in a huge dumped on the unsuspecting reader. Point of View is all over the place. Awkward sentences, to many adjectives. Oh boy! There is a lot of work to be to done.
I read up a lot about the editing process. I have also been taught different methods. In fact, everyone is different and does different things at different times. I suppose you do what works for you. I seem to use a combination of techniques for different projects. And I am still learning.
By the way, I have dyslexia, so I am pretty sure, that, though I have gone over this a few times, there will be spelling mistakes and grammatical errors. (If you find any, please let me know by emailing me).
Here, here, and here are some links to more editing tips that I have discovered.
As a reader and a self-confessed bibliophile (a person who loves books), I love walking into a library or bookstore and soaking up the books that surround me. As a child, I always thought that when I grew up that I would either be a horse trainer (as I love horses), or a librarian or a bookstore owner. (Just so you know, I re-trained horses as a teenager, but I didn't become a librarian or bookstore owner.)
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a bookstore owner of a ‘bricks and mortar’ store in today’s technological age? Well I have. So I decided to ask one that I know.
Introducing Andrea Kinsmith. Her and her husband Mark, along with their son Jesse, (nearly 9), own Reader’s Emporium in Traralgon, in regional Victoria.
Why did you buy a bookstore?
Four years ago, Mark sought a career change from being a Computer Technician. A local bookstore came up for sale at around the same time, so we decided to put in an offer, and as they say, the rest is history. We didn’t go into the business blind. We did heaps of research, but there is not a lot of information out there about owning a bookshop and all that it entails.
What are some of the hurdles that you have faced?
Do you want a list? It would be pages and pages long. We have had to learn everything; from the ground up: computer systems, publishing companies, distributors and how to deal with them, and so much more. And we keep on learning every day. There is always room for improvement.
What have been some unexpected benefits?
Meeting some really wonderful people. You end up feeling like family. And that’s what we’re about: creating a safe space for people where they feel welcome. Other unexpected benefits have been, getting positive feedback from a customer, a nice comment or a word of encouragement.
What would you say to those that believe that the 'bricks and mortar bookstore' are being taken over by online shopping?
Contrary to that popular belief, people do enjoy coming into a store and buying a book. I think that it's the personal service to find the right book for the right person.
What motivates you? Why do you do what you do?
Mark and I, even before we owned the bookstore, personally believe in, ‘Ideas worth sharing'. So this really sums it up. Everyone has ideas to share. No matter how young or old.
Ideas worth sharing:
1) Build family
2) Build the Readers Emporium Team and
3) Build community
For example, at the recent Summer Night’s Festival, we were wondering what we could use for stands for our books. Jesse suggested boxes. We have plenty, so we that is what we did. It worked perfectly. That is what our philosophy of ‘ideas worth sharing’ is all about. Sharing ideas and information with others.
What goals do you have?
For people to feel valued and to help everyone find the right book for the right person. To provide opportunity for others to learn. If we see a person with a frown, to endeavour to create a connection with them. To hopefully get them smiling. To make sure that they feel welcome.
Andrea, you have a real passion to encourage reading, especially in reluctant readers. What resources do you have available?
We have audio books which can do so much. There are so many benefits. Let’s just say I love audio books.
Click here to learn more about the benefits of audio books.
We also stock the Barrington Stoke Books. These books are not just great stories but they are set out in a unique way so that children who are reluctant readers, for whatever reason, be it dyslexia or other learning problems, find it easier to read.
In fact, I have a story about one mum who came in whose daughter just flat out refused to read. Well she bought an audio book, as well as a Barrington Stoke book. That night, her daughter read the first chapter (of the Barrington Stoke book) out loud, with the normal mistakes a child of her age would make.
The next day she took the book to school, clutching it to herself and she wouldn’t let it go; except to read it aloud to her teacher. This time she read with far less mistakes. Then, when she was visiting her grandmother, she read it through fluently.
I love stories like that.
Another story is a time when a grandmother came in to the shop to buy her grandson a book. We ask questions to try and find out interests (of the prospective reader) as well as reader level. One thing I have come to understand is that “a good reader,” means different things to different people. She said he was a good reader and proceeded to buy a 600 page book for her grandson.
Well, one year later, the boy’s mother and brother came into the store. They told me that he (the grandson) loves the book. It took him the entire year to read through the book, but he loved the story so much, he couldn’t put it down. I wanted to give him a medal for persistence and perseverance!
These stories make it all worth it.
Ok. The personal question. What do you do for fun?
I consider everything I do here at the book store fun. I also enjoy gardening, and cleaning the house. I also love spending time with my husband and playing with my son. I also love meeting new people and looking for new ways to share with people.
So there you have it. Not what you expected? An snapshot as to what it is like to own a bookstore today. To Mark and Andrea it is more than selling books. It’s about valuing people, their family, their team and their community. It is about instilling in others the love of a good book and learning to value the experience, the book and other people. It is about having ideas that are worth sharing and sharing them.
I would like to introduce my first guest blogger, friend, illustrator, artist, self-described wanna-be author, and fellow writer’s group member, Ester de Boer. In her own words, she describes our first writer's group for the year.
Our little quartet is a fascinating mix of different personalities and writing styles. Verity's writing is visually beautiful and enigmatic, but beneath her characters and watercolour landscape there's a constant foreboding. Megan is our practical organisational genie- her writings are simple and quirky, connecting to real life in ways that are matter-of-fact and often comical. Jacqui is definitely the romantic of the group- the epic quest between good and evil... seductive villains and unlikely heroes - and will there also be love?.. And I'm the eternal ten year old with the toilet humour.
This week was my turn to host, so needed a place that could stir the soul... spark the imagination... raise our consciousness above the base and mundane...
So, what could be more inspiring than a barbecue beside the abandoned Red Rooster building, across from Woolies, with public toilets a stone's throw away? We slapped some snags on the barbie, pulled out the crackers and dip and (after failing to percolate coffee on an electric barbeque) grabbed some Macdonald's coffees, before pulling out our holiday writing.
Verity emailed each of us a copy of her story to read to ourselves, which is a good idea as a story definitely reads differently through different voices. Megan wrote a short story in the form of a mysterious letter found at a mysterious little door at the base of a tree, and Jacquie has designed a coat of arms bearing the insignia of the various dark realms of her villain's kingdom.
I had planned to write so much while on holiday- two hours' train to the city, one hour flight, another hour on public transport the other side... surely I should have completed at least a chapter! In reality, I ended up red-eyed and frazzled. I did, however, achieve some satisfying tweaking of the opening chapter of my novel. When I started writing Gnerk, (my first attempt since bubble skirts were stylish) I began trying to write, using every rule I had ever been taught, and the result was stiff. It's interesting to look back and and see how it has developed.
The site for our meeting seemed to complete the theme as Verity and Megan shared their experiences “people-watching” this week in Mid Valley Shopping Centre in Morwell.
Where's Morwell? Hey, if you've been here, you know that it's a prime spot for inspiration.
Tip: always take a notebook to Centrelink.
I giggled as I pictured the two of them in the food court, secret-squirrel style, scribbling down snippets of conversation, eyes darting about furtively. Though in all fairness, I have been caught practising portraiture in public (oooh- try saying that line quickly- practicing-p-p---!), betrayed by my bad habit of mimicking the subject's facial expression. Their observations, however, were quite interesting. Bland conversations loaded with subtext- relatives attempting to bridge relationships with teens who were playing with playdough the last time they met; replies to simple questions such as “how's your Dad?” that, in their lack of information, told a lot more than the question required. And some plain just hilarious.
I think I need to pull out my sketchbook and go shopping more often- If I can only control my face!
Ester de Boer
See some of Ester's work here.
At the writer’s group that I’m in, we take it in turns running mini writing workshops. At one that I ran late last year, I grabbed various items from around the house: a coloured ball of wool with a crotchet hook sticking out of it; an old silver match holder from my grandfather that has engravings upon it; a colourful scarf; a tiny teapot and teacup; a fedora; and a red lace fan. These items were to be used as writing prompts and to create a story that included them.
We all chose our items and then were given fifteen minutes to write a short story or passage. I chose the lace fan, the coloured wool and crochet hook, and the teacup. Here is my story:
She held the crochet hook in her wrinkled hand and the brightly coloured wool in another. For a time, nothing could be heard except the creak of her rocking chair, the pedestal fan making its way back and forth, the panting of her dog lying beside her, and the hot wind howling around the house scorching the plants in her garden with its hot breath.
She paused, laid down her work and sipped her warm tea from her teacup now chipped with stories. She picked up her red lace fan to bring some relief to her flushed face. As she spread the lace open, her eyes lit upon the figures dancing across the screen. Memories flooded her mind of an incredible and adventurous summer that she had spent in Spain when she was younger. Much, much younger.
A wistful smile touched her lips. These were happy memories. Wonderful and cherished. Flashes of swirling skirts of the Flamenco Dancers whirling around in a dance that seemed without end. Dark eyes catching her own across the plaza. Her blush hidden behind her red lace fan. The many late nights of that long summer spent talking until the sun ascended like a gigantic red and orange rose over the sea. The hot summer days swimming in the ocean together. Promises spoken late at night.
She sipped her now cold tea. She smiled again. She glanced up. Those same dark eyes were looking at her; untouched by time. A smile reached his lips as his hands reached for hers. Who knew that love could exist like this?
Children's author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year's resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity - what DIDN'T get done or achieved in the previous year. Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one.
If you read my previous blog, I already was unknowingly participating in this Anti-Resolution Revolution!
Here is my list of successes for 2015:
2016 is on the horizon. As we approach the countdown for welcoming in this new year, many start looking back at the year that was, and peering forward into the future. Some can see achievements for 2015. Many can see that their New Year’s resolutions of 2015 were dead and buried by the end of January.
How did I go? Well last year I made a New Year’s resolution… not to have a resolution. Rather I decided to plan and make achievable goals. I focused on what was important to me and made specific, measurable and attainable goals… no matter how seemingly difficult; I did want to challenge myself.
I wanted to get into the best health possible. This is difficult for me as I have a chronic illness, Fibromyalgia. I might not be able to get rid of the fibro, but I certainly could get rid of the things in my diet that might trigger symptoms. I also wanted to increase my physical activity.
1) So coffee and sugar went out of my diet by the end of February. I had to ween myself off them. I occasionally had a cappuccino every so often until I totally cut it out. I cut out nearly all fat, and ate whole foods and foods that I had made from scratch. This was relatively easy as I have a lot of food intolerances and allergies. I just had to tweak what I was already doing.
2) Increase exercise: well that didn’t work as I already had torn tendons in my hip and leg muscle from late 2014. So I did what I could. Then I ended up with another torn leg muscle mid-year. They just tend to tear for no apparent reason, and when I am doing things like walking. My leg is fine now and I can walk around the block, take my dog for a walk again and work in my garden.
3) Take a writing course before the end of the year.
4) Continue to improve my writing by reading about writing, do creative exercises, write and receive feedback on my writing by at least two editors.
5) Send in at least two manuscripts to at least three publishers. The first by June and the second by November.
I was so pleased as I could slowly tick off each goal as they were achieved. Some goals have needed tweaking as the year progressed: 1) diet and 2) exercise. I also managed to achieve my other goals.
3. I took a Writing Picture Book Course through the Australian Writers Centre in November.
4. I had two editors look at one of my manuscripts and received feedback.
5. I sent in two different stories to different publishers by November.
The extraordinary and amazingly wonderful experience of achieving your goals is that sometimes, in the midst of just doing them, new opportunities open up. So keep your eyes open for new opportunities that may come your way that may fit with your current goals.
Recently the following two questions were asked of me.
Happy New Year everyone!
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