Tag Archives: editing

The Bond Between Writers & Editors 

Let me say, first and foremost, I feel more comfortable saying I’m an editor. Perhaps because I feel judged (even by myself) when I say I’m a writer. It’s an “artsy-fartsy” career– no one makes money writing, right?

 In my heart, I’m a writer; in my head, I’m an editor.

As editor and contributor to Modern Agriculture Magazine, I was asked to speak before the Professional Writers Association of Canada (Fraser Valley chapter) about the relationship between editor and writer. I tried to provide perspective from both sides of the desk, even though they are two very different jobs.

Since 2010, I’ve worked as a freelance writer and editor, and social media manager. I came across an ad for a proofreader for Modern Agriculture Magazine in 2014 and, despite my complete lack of experience in farming or  growing anything other than mould, I applied and got the gig.

Getting a Magazine to Print

I love the grass roots way in which Modern Agriculture Magazine began. In 2013 a small group of students in the agriculture department at the University of the Fraser Valley shared the same view about agriculture publications as one of their teachers: not enough hyper-local interest stories or communication about all the exciting new tech and innovation in the ag sector that they were learning about in class. It was suggested  they start their own publication, and so they surged ahead with that raw courage of youth.

Over the past few years, it has been submissions from writers and suggestions and feedback from readers that has directed the layout and content of Modern Ag Mag. The magazine was created with the farming community in mind, but we now want producers, retailers, distributors and consumers to feel they are gaining valuable, relevant information about food and the ag industry.

The magazine produces four issues a year focusing on local farming stories as well as global innovations in agriculture. Though submissions come in from around the world, the publishers have always preferred to use the talents of local writers with expertise in agriculture and horticulture.

My role with the magazine slowly morphed and grew, and now I might perform the roles of structural editor, line editor, managing editor, writer and proofreader. Traditional publishing houses or larger magazines have distinct titles with specific tasks attached to those titles. Smaller publications have less positions but the same tasks, so the lines between tasks are necessarily blurred.

Titles like Managing Editor, Feature Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Substantive Editor, Publisher, Manager, Director, and departments within the publication: Publishing, Design, Acquisitions, Sales, and Editorial can be an overwhelming hierarchy, but with our little magazine we have a small staff and eventually writers and advertisers get to know our whole team.

If a writer submits work to a larger magazine publisher, they might be working with several editors at different stages and might never work with the proofreaders—the last people to see the work before going to print.

It’s truly a team effort to get an issue of Modern Agriculture published. We are each other’s sounding board, support system, and will step into each role as required without stepping on toes—and that in itself is the key to a successful issue. Respect and politeness go a long way when you’re working with a small team and tight deadlines.

Gurtaj Sandhu was one of the original publishers of the magazine, so he has had input in all departments, but now can focus his energy on advertising as Sales Manager. He also coordinates meetings and our attendance at industry events as the publisher’s representative.

Amanda Thind is our Manager or Managing Editor and she oversees each issue and is the go between for writers, me (the Editor), and our Creative Director. She handles the accounts payable/receivable, the publication schedule, the final proof and the quality of the print. She also is in communication with most of our regular contributors and in touch with all levels of the ag community and resources for stories.

Our Creative Director, Karin Nelson, worked with the original publishing team on the design of the magazine and often shares her opinion on the content and direction we are going. Her artistic, creative mind allows for a different perspective and she contributes to the tone of the magazine.

The Role of an Editor

For me, the self-judgement that goes on sometimes when I write is non-existent when I have on my editor’s hat. As writers, we all know we can be our own worse critics. I think that’s why I have a delicate touch when it comes to editing the work of others, because I truly understand how personal it can feel when your creation comes under scrutiny.

Editors are analytical rather than artistic. As the editor and proofreader for the magazine, I am able to be critical without being cruel, and encouraging without being emotional.

As an editor,  I have to be efficient and focus on correct copy. I need a certain confidence, stubbornness and a critical eye. Sometimes a writer and I will enthusiastically disagree with a change to the work—but that’s rare. We are all working together with one goal which is to produce a quality magazine and educate and inform readers.

But with any disagreement, if the piece is needed and there’s a deadline looming, it’s time to get real. For me, it’s a balance between considering the feelings of others, the reasons the article has to be altered, and will the end result justify the battle over word choice or a punctuation mark. The relationship I’m building with a writer is more important than what I view as a “perfect article”. The writer’s name is on the work, after all.

Disagreeing with an Editor

If you really believe your work has suffered due to a change, bring the issue up with the editor. The best way to approach your editor is to say, “I’d really like to understand the reason behind the change in case it’s something that comes up in the future.” If the editor can make a case for the edits, then you have learned something. If not, then the editor might decide the change wasn’t really necessary. Now, you’re working as a team, and future issues, hopefully, will be easier to address.

That being said, writers (myself included) have to remember that editors are not there to be mean or unreasonable. They are doing an important job and might even be able to offer an unbiased view of your work that will make you a better writer, or at the very least be more open to criticism.

It might be that you realize you hate this person and just cannot work with them anymore. This is also helpful. If an editor isn’t supportive, open to suggestions, willing to listen and respectful of the work, time to move on.

Get Paid for Writing

If you submit work to a publication on spec, hoping to be hired for future work, I suggest you send your rate with the submission with the understanding that you will be paid. It is your job as a writer to make this clear, because if a magazine can get your work for free, they will! It’s not illegal, as far as I know, not to pay a writer who sends in unsolicited work.

State that you have submitted the work for consideration and ask who you send your invoice to should your work be chosen. Contracts are not used with our magazine, and there hasn’t been a problem so far, but if you’re new to a publication I suggest you at least ask about contracts or have one ready to send if you feel you need that assurance.

Editors should be open to receiving queries from writers. IF they’re not, then that’s just surprising . . . and odd, because after all, the content supply needs to keep flowing.

I always welcome questions, story suggestions and submissions. We might not always use them, or even get back to you. This is just because of the volume we sometimes get or our busy schedules. It’s not a rebuff, and please don’t take it personally. I would invite you to send another email or message me, or even phone me. Then I can apologize profusely for my scatter brain and it might result in me asking you to write an article cos I feel so guilty.

Can Writers Submit to More Than One Publication?

Writers own their work and they have copyright and it’s their intellectual property, but editors have control over how the work is presented in its final form. Though you own the work, it is – of course – best practice to have your work paid for and printed in one published medium at a time. Many editors don’t accept previously published work – unique and fresh is preferred, and magazines don’t want to get embroiled in conflicts over articles.

We will accept older work if it is still relevant and can be altered enough not to be recognized by readers. Sometimes magazines will ask a writer to sign a contract, promising not to publish their work in any other medium for a year or so after printing. This means NOT in print, online, in an anthology, or on your website. This is just good practice. You want to build a reputation as a writer, and loyalty to each publication is paramount.

How to Build on Your Writer-Editor Relationship

It’s important to have an original voice, a perspective when you write, and though it’s good to be able to write on any subject, it helps to focus on what interests you as a writer and become the expert in that field. You become the go-to person for that subject when an editor is looking for a writer for a topic.

We DO appreciate when writers share their articles or snippets of the article leading back to our website on their social media channels and help spread the word about our free subscription – the more subscribers, the more ads we can attract, and the more writers we can hire.

We include bylines with our articles, a contributors page with short bios about the writers and links to websites so we can help promote you as a writer. Just don’t start charging us more when you become famous!

Of course, the most important way to build trust with an editor, is:

  • Send them a bottle of wine — just kidding, really it’s…
  • Meet deadlines no matter what!

Deadlines are terrifying to editors and managing editors. The expected article doesn’t arrive . . . and the magazine layout is affected as the editor, managing editor, publisher, and designer scramble to choose a suitable article in the files, or have to contact another writer to whip something together just in case, or the editor now has to drop everything to write something to fit. Pages might need rearranging, new images sourced, the contents page and contributor pages and cover are affected — and the last weeks or days before files go to print are stressful enough without that added burden.

What Happens After Submitting an Article?

When we receive an article, we expect it to be as close to perfect as possible. We want it to be one hundred percent original, have been thoroughly researched, fact-checked and contain accurate quotes. If you don’t already record your interviews, I would suggest you start. Digital recorders are inexpensive and you can store digital files of interviews if sources or quotes need to be checked. Biggest tip – extra batteries! Those suckers burn through batteries.

If material is referenced, we would appreciate tables, graphs and charts to back it up and use with permission. Images are so important, and if a writer can ask the person they are interviewing for photos to include in the article – that is stellar! It means we don’t have to try and find images to represent the article, or bother interviewees ourselves, but have access to approved images from the source.

Basically, any sources or information you have to help support what you’ve written should be submitted along with the article. Editors try to fact check, but we don’t have access to your recordings or online research you did, so make sure everything is accurate and if you think it would be helpful, include links to websites or publications used as references.

After an article reaches me and it’s ready for insertion into the magazine, I proofread it. I generally won’t get back to the writer once I have the article . . . I will only make small edits for spelling, verb tense, or grammar etc. if necessary, on which the writer need not be consulted.

If the writer requests that I send edited copy to them, I will . . . but not for debate. If there are significant changes required, I would let the writer know and send a revised copy for their approval. Reasons for big changes usually have to do with space, but there have been times when a lot of structural editing was required, and I want to share that with the writer so they have the changes for future reference. They may want to submit a tweaked version to another publication down the road, and any corrections I make might help them with that submission.

It may just have been that we made a list of points into bullets for easier reading, or shortened sentences or added subheadings to break up a longer piece. Sometimes headings are added or changed to create a hook. I tend to be a sucker for alliteration or a pun – cheesy but fun!

Timeline of a magazine from planning to print

We gather the team together up to a year prior to plan a few issues ahead, consider each season, make educated guesses as to what will be in vogue, review past issues and what topics need to be revisited, sketch out a rough list of articles and potential writers. We plan the cover—to suit the season, but also leave room for developing stories or advertisers that want to pay for a cover.

The printing house needs at least five weeks heads up that we are sending print files, and they need to receive print files about roughly 2-3 weeks before expected print date.

We asked writers to submit articles for the January issue by mid November at the latest. That gave us a month to coordinate articles, edit, do layout, source images and finalize cover and proofread a few times before print files went to the printer. So we started handing out article assignments in September for the January issue.

We like to try and give our writers a month or two to conduct research and interviews, and write the articles. We like a bit of a cushion because we are all part-time freelancers and we need to work the magazine schedule in with our other jobs and responsibilities. Every issue can be a little different, but those deadlines, once set, have to be kept – the health and sanity of our Creative Director hangs upon it.

Queries, Questions & Quick Tips

It really is best for freelancers to research reputable publications, or submit to ones recommended by a fellow writer, and if you’re hired for a series of articles, make sure you’re paid immediately for the first before submitting any more—or get signatures on a contract.

You can request a style guide or submission guidelines from a publication, and these can often be found on the publication’s website. This can be a good way to make that first introduction as a writer. And if you are a regular contributor, following a style guide saves some time for the editor.

Though, I find it’s just easier for me to make any necessary style changes to freelance work as I go, as some writers are submitting work to several places, and it isn’t feasible to try and match different style requirements as each magazine will follow their own.

How do Writers & Editors Connect?

Places I’ve connected with potential contributors:

  • Writing and editing association meetings or events
  • The Pacific Ag Show or Horticulture Shows
  • Industry events and media gatherings – news releases
  • The BC Tech Summit
  • SRCTec open houses
  • I receive queries through my editor@modernag email, my business website, LinkedIn, or other social channels

We’ve also found writers on:

  •  UPwork Freelancer, or PWAC or similar freelance sites
  • Online: If you have a strong online presence with sample works on your website and links to articles online, you’re much more likely to be contacted for your services.
  • 100 Best Websites for Writers 2017 (from The Write Life)

If you are looking to write for a particular magazine, I suggest stalking them. Research their style, the subjects they cover, attend events they might attend, share what they publish, be visible and ready to introduce yourself and talk about what you’ve written (and where you are published).

Don’t be shy—I always hold back as a writer. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t take that first step—advice I still struggle with.

So, I wish you all good luck with your writing, and I want to invite your questions below or you can email me.

The Comma Queen Answers Your Punctuation Questions

I often get questions about punctuation usage from friends and clients. I enjoy explaining the rules and helping people understand why a semi-colon must be used in place of a comma, or why a hyphen is not appropriate between parts of a sentence, because it helps to reinforce the rules for me too.

The folks at the New Yorker recorded some very helpful videos on punctuation with great examples from copy editor, Mary Norris — or as you may refer to her, the Comma Queen.

Enjoy the videos and if you have any questions about punctuation, grammar, spelling or writing fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you!
http://player.cnevids.com/embed/551583d861646d22ba010000/52f2ad0169702d21a5080000

 

Apostrophe Atrocities Appall Aware Authors!

If you’re sick and tired of blog posts about apostrophes, well too bad…here’s another one! Until we learn our lesson and stop making the same mistakes over and over again (we all make ’em), we’re doomed to endure constant lecturing. Even I make mistakes sometimes (I know…shocking!), so please tell me if you spot an error, ’cause — damn it, I have to learn!

don’t know about you, but I am constantly amazed at the amount of apostrophe errors out there. Why is it we, as an English-speaking and -writing culture, can’t get it right? I see mistakes painted on the sides of vehicles, plastered on signs, emblazoned on book covers and sprinkled through articles. Some examples:

images (3)

Do NOT get a tattoo here unless the owner’s name is Tattoo. Even then, bad idea!

20

This person sadly ignored the blatant signs that Tattoo, though a business owner, did not possess the necessary English skills to craft an eloquent indelible message. I say tattoo artists should stick to images.

Dont Look Back Bob Dylan

This may have been a design choice…I get it, but I don’t have to like it!

Ribs Ontario

Oooh, wait a minute…I think they’re telling us the Best Rib is actually in town. Well, I’d like to meat him (see what I did there?)

images (2)

This is completely understandable — the sign printer obviously ran out of apostrophes.

download (2)

Their price for perfection is having to fire the proofreader.

download (1)

At least they reword the invitation underneath as they know something is wrong in the first sentence but aren’t sure what it is, so they kindly clarify things for the reader. And what’s with the time? Another pet peeve — there should be a colon between 9 and 30 and a space before am!!!! I also hate overuse of exclamation marks…but sometimes…I tell ya!

So, I have some questions for you. Should we point out these egregious errors to the perpetrator? Or, is it not our place to be the punctuation police? And who is to blame: the business owner, the copy writer, the proofreader, the printer, the sign installer, the first person to see the printed copy? I imagine the text passes through multiple stages and past several people before being presented to the public. Just carelessness then, I suppose.

The only way we will learn as a society is to keep reminding people the correct way to punctuate, and point out the errors so they aren’t made again. Ask someone else to proofread, or at least double-check your work. Appalling apostrophe application should not be tolerated. So let’s go over the rules again…

Only use apostrophes for:

  1. Contractions. When squishing two words together, the apostrophe is like a bookmark for the missing letters. For example:  “I’d (I would) love to attend the party, but I don’t (do not) like boring conversation or frozen sausage rolls passed off as hors d’oevres.” ( I had to look up how to spell hors d’oevres — French: outside of the main course).
  2. Possessives. To show who or what owns something. For example: “My parents do not make a habit of throwing boring parties. Mother’s quiche is often spoken of the next day and her guests’ palates are discerning, I assure you. I insist you attend Thursday’s party.”
  3. Abbreviations. For example: “Well, excuse me! I would hate to upset you ’cause your parents are terrible hosts! They haven’t thrown a good party since the ’70s!” (note there is NO apostrophe required after ’70 as it is a plural word — 1970s, nineteen seventies).

* TIP: When typing an apostrophe, make sure it is the apostrophe– the curly quote mark or straight quote mark ( ’ or ‘ ), and try and pay attention to the way the apostrophe faces. It is NOT an opening quote, but an END quote  not ‘.

Apostrophe use

Now there are odd rules, and exceptions, and even preferential treatment for apostrophes. E.g. an apostrophe can help clarify things as in: Mind you P’s and Q’s — it just looks better with apostrophes, though they are not needed.

It is interesting to note that the creator of Mother’s Day wanted the apostrophe inserted before the ‘r’ although there are three usage camps (Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day and Mothers Day). So, my final piece of advice is to look it up if in doubt, or ask a superlative editor like me…or is it myself?

Leave your comments or questions below, and PLEASE point out any errors, because we all need reminding sometimes!

How Much Are You Worth?

When you ask an editor how much they charge, you might get a mumbled response. This isn’t because they have a mouth full of peanut butter (though, they might) or the mention of remuneration causes them to have a mild stroke (though, this is possible); it is difficult to price a job without assessing the work (the size and scope and level) deadline, current workload, and the all-important budget.

Editors want to do a quality job for you at the best price possible. After all, we want referrals — that is how we afford all that peanut butter.
When I am asked directly what I would charge to edit something (document, résumé, website, ad copy, novel, article), I usually suggest they send a sample of the work or meet for a chat. That way I can assess their needs: whether any writing or research is actually required, or a structural edit, or just light proofreading. Quoting on a job as a whole can be the best course, as long as the estimated hours are included in the contract and all parties understand that if the work goes over that time, the quote must be revisited. This way, the expected cost is known up front and the editor can schedule the necessary hours.
If I give an hourly rate, some people balk at it. I remind them that quality editors work quickly, racking up fewer hours than those who charge less per hour.

Some wonderful posts to help us out:

Do you know of any other helpful sites? Please share in the comments below…

Lay Vs. Lie: Let’s Lay This Matter to Rest!

Re-blogged from ESL Library.com –>> http://bit.ly/1jFmnrQ
By Tanya Trusler

You may want to lie down to read this @lancearmstrong!

All languages have their confusing words…words that sound the same, look the same, or have the same meaning. Especially confusing are words that have similar forms (for example, in different verb tenses) but are not used in exactly the same way (the present and past tense of “read,” with two different pronunciations, comes to mind). In my opinion, the irregular verbs “lay” and “lie” rank at the top of the list in terms of confusing forms and usage.These words are a particular pet peeve of mine…because I can never keep them straight! I have probably looked these two words up more often while teaching and editing than any other words in the English language. I hope that by writing out the rules here that we will sort them out, together, once and for all! Continue reading Lay Vs. Lie: Let’s Lay This Matter to Rest!

Apostrophe (’) Atrocities Appall Aware Authors

If you’re sick and tired of blog posts about apostrophes, well too bad…here’s another one! Until we learn our lesson and stop making the same mistakes over and over again, we’re doomed to endure constant lecturing. Even I make mistakes sometimes (I know…shocking!), so please tell me if you spot an error, ’cause — damn it, I have to learn!

I don’t know about you, but I am constantly amazed at the amount of apostrophe errors out there. Why is it we, as an English-speaking and writing culture, can’t get it right? I see mistakes painted on the sides of vehicles, plastered on signs, emblazoned on book covers and sprinkled through articles. Some examples:

images (3)

Do NOT get a tattoo here unless the owner’s name is Tattoo. Even then, bad idea!

20

This person sadly ignored the blatant signs that Tattoo, though a business owner, did not possess the necessary English skills to craft an eloquent indelible message. I say tattoo artists should stick to images.

Dont Look Back Bob Dylan

This may have been a design choice…but it was a bad one!

Ribs Ontario

Oooh, wait a minute…I think they’re telling us the Best Rib is actually in town. Well, I’d like to meat him (see what I did there?)

images (2)

This is completely understandable — the sign printer obviously ran out of apostrophes.

download (2)

Their price for perfection is having to fire the proofreader.

download (1)

At least they reword the invitation underneath as they know something is wrong in the first sentence but aren’t sure what it is, so they kindly clarify things for the reader. And what’s with the time? Another pet peeve — there should be a colon between 9 and 30 and a space before am!!!! I also hate overuse of exclamation marks, but sometimes…I tell ya!

So, I have some questions for you. Should we point out these egregious errors to the perpetrator? Or, is it not our place to be the punctuation police? And who is to blame: the business owner, the copy writer, the proofreader, the printer, the sign installer, the first person to see the printed copy? I imagine the text passes through multiple stages and past several people before being presented to the public. Just carelessness then, I suppose.

The only way we will learn as a society is to keep reminding people the correct way to punctuate, and point out the errors so they aren’t made again. Appalling apostrophe application should not be tolerated. So let’s go over the rules again…

Only use apostrophes for:

  1. Contractions. When squishing two words together, the apostrophe is like a bookmark for the missing letters. For example:  “I’d (I would) love to attend the party, but I don’t (do not ) like boring conversation or frozen sausage rolls passed off as hors d’oevres.” ( I had to look up hors d’oevres French: outside of the main course).
  2. Possessives. To show who owns what. For example: “My parents do not make a habit of throwing boring parties. Mother’s quiche is often spoken of the next day and her guests’ palates are discerning, I assure you. I insist you attend Thursday’s party.”
  3. Abbreviations. For example: “Well, excuse me! I would hate to upset you ’cause your parents are terrible hosts! They haven’t thrown a good party since the ’70s!” (note there is NO apostrophe required after ’70 as it is a plural word — 1970s, nineteen seventies).

Now there are odd rules, and exceptions, and even preferential treatment for apostrophes. It is interesting to note that the creator of Mother’s Day wanted the apostrophe inserted before the ‘r’ although there are three usage camps (Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day and Mothers Day). So, my final piece of advice is to look it up if in doubt, or ask a superlative editor like me…or is it myself?

Leave your comments or questions below, and PLEASE point out any errors, because we all need reminding sometimes!

Before You Publish, Edit That Shit!

Image

Self-publishing is an incredible adventure filled with pitfalls, mountains and shit storms. So, when my first book is eventually published, I will pat myself on the back and thank those who helped, and forgive any errors I may have made. Because, with each book, I will learn from my mistakes and sneak up on that elusive noun called perfection.

Along the way I have found blogs that unraveled the mysteries of the internet, and tweets and posts that supported me through digital trials and tribulations. I am not too techy — but eager to learn — and sometimes I feel like a over-excited puppy tripping over its own feet and rolling in its own pee.

I want to share one website with all you writers out there who need reminding of the simple, but beautiful, art of editing when buried under mounds of programming issues, formatting errors and online horrors. I found heaps of helpful advice from Write Into Print. Click below for a series of tips on self-editing that are a pleasure to read as much as they are a gentle reminder to get your shit together before you ask people to read your book! And, as always, it is a good idea to let someone else edit your creation before launching it into the ether.

Write Into Print —> http://bit.ly/1dtAwQp

Writer vs. Author: my internal dichotomy

As my first novel is about to go online, I thought I’d better embrace the word that I have worried over using to describe myself: author.

Authors are published, accomplished, and make money at their chosen profession — at least that is what I used to believe. Now I know that while writers write, whether seldom or often, they write alone; authors share what they write and engage with others. That is something I am learning to do bit by painful bit.

Helping others with their writing has been my job and I have enjoyed participating in the journey through the writing process. I observed, from the sidelines, the writer’s emergence into the family of published creators and artists — and they always received a warm and encouraging welcome. I have watched with envy as would-be authors risk everything and open their hearts and minds to the world, expecting little in return. Sure, it’s nice to receive praise, perhaps a little remuneration; but those things are not what drives most of the writers I have worked with. They have something to share, an idea to express, and a need to be heard. When they share, it is without mercenary intent; they have no ulterior motive; and they go about it with a wide-eyed wonder and keen sense of the community to which they are communicating. For some, even reaching out and sharing what they have written with even one other person has been reward enough.

So, I am out of the closet. I have been writing secretly on and off for years, but never fully committed or rarely admitted to my rather self-indulgent activity. Pages torn out of notepads and the backside of phone bills served as my medium for a long time. I kept some scraps, stuffing them into folders and drawers, or used them as bookmarks and drink coasters. Then I graduated to recording my ideas in notebooks, purchased especially for that purpose; and finally stored my precious lines on a hard drive, which seemed terrifyingly permanent and a huge step for me. Each saved document reinforced the idea of writing an actual novel and it became a reachable goal. I felt that each stroke of the keyboard audaciously called out to the world, “I am a writer!” The echoing reply was, “Who cares?” as I retreated back into my imaginary worlds.

At first, I would wait until my family was in bed to open up my computer and add a few lines before hitting ‘Save’ and enjoying the tiny thrill. Over time I became braver, opening files when it was daylight, and eventually owning up to what I was doing with a casual, “Oh, just writing!”, when asked by neglected family and friends. No one expressed shock, or asked excitedly if they could read what I wrote. In fact, I sometimes had to beg people to read my stuff if I needed some feedback. This surprised me. What had I been hiding from? People had their own lives to be getting on with, and their own passions to pursue – and most pursued them out in the open, sharing their successes and failures without fear of judgement.

As my view of authors expanded, my opinion on writers changed. Writing is a self-indulgent activity, and within myself it nurtured my imagination but I did not feed my hunger. There was more to this writing malarkey and I was missing something. That something was communion with my fellow man. I had shut myself away in my mind, creating a pseudo-world with a sole occupant. If I wanted people to care about what I was doing, I had to be honest with myself. Creating something and not sharing it was selfish and cowardly. I wanted to share my love of writing, but was afraid of being judged. But it is not about whether readers think my writing is good, it is about being open about what I enjoy doing. It is about being courageous enough to do what I encourage others to do.

As I began to open up about my stories, people were kind enough to listen which motivated me to share more. I will always be thankful for people’s kind words and interest in my writing. After all, why should they care? I cared deeply for the characters in my stories as if they were real people. I anguished over plot lines and physically ached if I had to run an errand and left a character hanging who needed me to write them out of a predicament. The people in my stories did not know why I had abandoned them; I could not explain to them that we had run out of milk, or my children needed picking up from school. As the dialogue, developing plot lines and character development slowly grew to resemble chapters, and then an entire book, my passion for my little hobby grew until I wanted to introduce my made-up friends to the flesh and blood people in my life. As I spoke about the adventures I was planning to take my characters on, they became even more real to me. They now lived out in the world, in the imagination of other people, instead of just on a cold white computer screen and in my head. Time to set them free and grant myself some freedom too. Freedom to learn, grow, fail, succeed and share.

Opening my door to the world has also created space for more of the world to come in and reside with me. It was a bit uncomfortable at first, but I am warming to the idea of curious readers out there peeking in at my sacred sanctuary. So… (breathe)…come on in!