I Got Nothing

Well, that’s not completely true. I also don’t have an upset stomach. So maybe I am finally adjusting to these steroids.  They seem to be working, too. I have no scabs left on my arms (and they seem to be itching only in that “ugh, new skin!”) way and the stuff on my right leg is tremendously better. And the course she gave me starts to taper down immediately, so Sunday will be my last day.

Thank gods.

The ghost stories are set, I hope. I know they’re going to be corny and terrible, but I’m still excited about them anyway. And I had to do some fixes on my Best of Nashville entries and add a few, so I hope they take them all. And I wrote a post for Pith which will go up some time today about the whole Cooper internet fight.  I mean it in good fun, so I hope people take it that way.  Hard to know, though, since the drugs make it hard for me to judge whether things are actually funny.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, again, about editing. I think I’m a good writer, don’t get me wrong. But I think I’m a good writer at the point where only time and more reading is going to make me any better by myself. Like the ghost stories, for instance. I had a great time writing them and when I reread them, I feel like they’re fun but that maybe they’re not as good as they could be. What could make them better? Hell if I know.

It’s going to take time for me to distance myself from them enough to come to them with fresh eyes and say “Oh, duh, yeah, this is too stuffy and this is too thin and this would work better if I moved it there.” (And honestly, this is one of the reasons I’m posting them, hoping to jar a “Why didn’t I see that?!” moment when I realize that it’s not just me looking at them.)

But one of the things about writing at Pith that hit me this week especially, as I druggedly attempted to write about Abramson’s drug panel, is that there’s always already an editor there, someone you can say “Damn, something is not working with this” and they can say “Yep, that’s for sure. I’m going to move this here, put this there and voila!”  Having another set of eyes to look at writing you want to be good (and it’s not that I don’t want this writing to be good, I do, but I mostly just want this writing to be an intimate thing between us) makes you a better writer.

I used to do developmental editing. And I thought, and still do think, I was pretty good at it, at least for the types of writers I worked with, who are mostly good writers who can solve the problems with their writing if only someone with more distance can tell them what their problems are.

Editing, good editing, is missing from great swaths of the internet. Some traditionalists grouch about this because they think it means there’s no filter, no one to make a decision about whether something should be published (and then read).  But the truth is that readers make and have always made this determination. What’s missing from the internet is a person who can see a piece and also see its best potential and a path for getting there.

But the sad thing is that this is missing more and more from traditional publishing as well.

I don’t know how that bodes for writing. It’ll be different, that’s for sure.  Will people have the sense to hire editors?  Will agents do more and more developmental work? What about at newspapers?

I don’t know, but I wonder.

4 thoughts on “I Got Nothing

  1. In re: the Pith article, which is now online – it is funny, in that “litany in your silly moo” sort of way (pinching your phrase) that makes up much of your style. I can see, however, how some humorless sort could hold a different interpretation. I do expect the people whose feelings were hurt to continue to take offense — but then it’s up to us to continue to laugh at the clownishness.

    None of this is to say that the subject matter at hand is laughable; it is downright serious. But sometimes all you can do is muster a chuckle, y’know? (And as an aside, ever since ACK mentioned “have fun storming the castle” in this regard, I have been imagining Kos astride a wheelbarrow in a flaming holocaust cloak, being pushed towards the gates of Cooper’s Dist 5 office, screaming about being the Dread Pirate Blogger. Doesn’t quite cut the same impressive figure as Andre the Giant, huh?)

    And in re: your remarks in that article about my contributions in commentary: I’m chuffed. Thanks. I suppose I can get behind being “not-a-blogger” despite having made a couple of efforts thereto. I simply don’t have the discipline. I don’t mind commenting or supporting decent blogs, but I find that the process of coming up with original thoughts worth committing to an online journal is not one that comes naturally. Hell, I have any number of half-started journals with a couple of well-meaning pages on them. But then, as you say, “got nothin.” I have a hard enough time coming up with interesting status messages on FB, for what that’s worth. Christ. It’s not that I don’t have interests or opinions – but having a readership is a responsibility, in many ways. Praise be to those (such as yourself) that have the discipline.

  2. I just learn so much from you guys, and I’m happy to get a chance to be a little fan-girl-ish to you when I can.

    And I think because it is so deadly serious, you have to find a way to laugh at it, or you would be crushed by it.

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