Beginnings

There’s a lot of pressure in beginnings. The opening of the novel has to do so much to grab a reader and convince them to keep reading. The first day at a new job leaves you wanting to look just right – no toilet paper clinging to the bottom of a shoe please, nor spinach hiding away between teeth. I’m a quiet person, contained. A public blog feels like the antithesis of containment. It’s… revealing. So let’s just get some revelations out of the way up front. I cajoled my lovely friend and author Elizabeth Bonesteel to make me answer some questions that may not exactly leave me standing here naked, but will show more than I’d manage on my own.

What do you do all day? (e.g. day job)  I’m a development editor, which means I develop manuscripts for organization, content, clarity, cohesion, and all things big and small. This also means I do a lot of project management, reviewing of page proofs, consulting on design, and rewriting of marketing copy. (Rewriting because: editor.) My career began with encyclopedias and has since moved on to textbooks.

If you could meet any writer, who would you meet?  I’ve already met so many wonderful writers, unplanned, that I hesitate to name any in particular. Best to be surprised.

Dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets, or reptiles?  Dogs, definitely, but I seem to be cat-magical. They like me. Even feral cats who run from everyone like me. It is baffling.

What is your favorite cuisine?  I have been told by a friend that one day, I will become Thai food. And that will be a good day.

What is your writing process?  I need the general idea of something, along with a character, before I begin writing. No outline, but a sense of direction gives me what I need to begin researching and make it through to the end. The rest reveals itself as I go. If the setting requires world-building, I develop a lot of those details before I begin or get too far into things. When the first draft is done, I revise, let it sit for months, and then revise again until it’s as good as I can make it.

What five pieces of advice would you give an aspiring author? 

I am aspiring as well, but donning my editor’s cap:

  1. Write what you want to read (it’s one bit of cliched advice I agree with).
  2. Be patient. It takes time for skills to develop.
  3. Work hard, or it won’t matter how patient you are.
  4. Be constructive in your criticism of yourself. “This sucks” is not useful. If you’re not satisfied with something, take the time to determine why you don’t like it and then figure out how to make it better. Which leads to:
  5. Experiment. Your words aren’t set in stone and our lovely modern technology allows you to save and create new files, which provides a great opportunity for experimentation. Try different approaches, different styles, different points of view. It’s both fun to play and effective for skill-building. You learn a lot in the process.

Thank you, Liz, for helping me with this peep show!

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