The cherry popping referring to being edited that is 😉
The fledgling writer’s opportunity to learn
So, I’ve always said that I wanted to write (the always actually stemming from feeling that I seem to express myself better with the written word). I enjoy writing though most times I feel that I tend to ramble…which can be good, in small doses. Well…I managed to get a writing gig with a local magazine. It was one of those “it happened” sort of thing, you know when you openly declare your intent and someone hears about it and offers you the chance?
It was a cover story based on an interview that I had to do.
I had the chance to look at the edited version and compared it with my own (the article is for the December issue) Oh boy! I’ve never had any of my attempts in writing edited before but wow talk about an awesome make over. If this is what editors need to do even for established writers, I sure hope they get their due in thanks!
Passive learning though it has it’s merits of enhancing our knowledge lacks in one important aspect that is filled in by active learning. I’ve realized that though we may gain insights and knowledge with reading it usually doesn’t mean a thing unless we actively participate in the experience. This is true for most anything.
A habit born from a not so praiseworthy mind set of not being good enough or ready enough, the willingness to learn things from the “bottom up” has taught me that learning by doing is sometimes (if not most times) a lot better and even different than what is learned by reading or even just observing. Like the spark that lights the candle wick information ignites our minds and like the glow of the candle light illuminating our surroundings, participating in the process allows us to experience that knowledge.
The fledgling writer’s lessons
Being edited has woken me up to the fact that this is what I should be practicing while blogging. If I want to write then I need to not just tap out the words on the keyboard because writing is more than that. It’s what I’ve listed below and more.
Be practical when it comes to deadlines!
Though I had a whole week’s notice about the interview and the deadline, I only managed to do the interview two days before it was due. That’s not enough time for someone new at this.
I did it though, managing to get the story written the day before the deadline, but by the time I was done my brain decided it was time for a vacation…!
Editing does not mean just grammar and spelling corrections!
So yes, this isn’t a big secret only known to a select few but you see what I mean by the difference between reading to gain the knowledge and actually practicing it?
I realized from comparing the edited version of the article and my own is that I should have printed out the draft, read, read again….chewed on it..and seen if the blocks of information that I’d written could be re arranged to tell a better story.
It also taught me that I have to learn to open my mind and be flexible. It doesn’t do justice to steadfastly believe that the storyline *had* to be the way it was first written out. To realize that it *can* change. Maybe what was put in the end could fit better in the beginning or that middle part would be better suited in the end. As long as the story tells the truth with no embellishments to obstruct the essence of the story, it’s fine to tweak it so that it tells a better story.
It doesn’t do justice to steadfastly believe that the storyline *had* to be the way it was first written out. To realize that it *can* change.
I don’t know why or how, but I did not format the article I sent out. There was no title and no sub headings. For some totally misguided reason I rationalized that I just had to submit an “article” or essay and that the snazzy title and sub headings would be done by someone cool and experienced at the magazine… yes, my method of thinking has at times befuddled even me.
I did learn a new word though : Stand-head (I heard it as stand-first during the call I made to the editor when I wondered why there was no feedback after it was submitted. My thoughts were she must have been spellbound to see either a terrifically or a horribly written article. Fortunately, she managed to answer my call). Stand head is actually that little paragraph made up of 2 or 3 lines that neatly summarizes the whole article which is placed under the title.
Coming up with a title and a stand head is not an easy task!
You know, most of the articles that I read on writing do say that a catching title is like the first hook. Even as a reader I know how important the title is. What most don’t mention is that title – making is not something that you can come up with, with the snap of your fingers (well, at least not for me, not yet anyways…I hope). What I did learn, and hopefully I’m right about this, is to look at the BIG picture of the article. What is the essential message of the article and what is it that you want your article to represent – in 4 (or there abouts) words or less, with less being better.
While indulging in a certain vice of mine, my mind as usual went for a stroll thinking about the edited article. Lo and behold a veil opened up and behind it like a sparkling gem I realized this process was more than just lessons in magazine article writing, it’s reminded me of life lessons as well! Obvious ones but no less important.
To be able to rearrange and edit a piece of your own writing requires you to have an open mindedness and a perception that is sensitive. If we stubbornly hold on to what we believe is the “right” way without expanding ourselves to look at situations from different sides, we are stuck…and it’s times like these when we won’t be able to see the potential of a situation for what it has to offer.
To come up with a title and stand-head you need to zoom out and perceive the big picture. To sift through all that information and reveal what is in the heart of the written piece. Shouldn’t that be something we all learn to do? – to zoom out and get a better perspective of different situations in our life. To sift through the muck of emotions rooted in our fearful and wounded ego and look at the heart of the matter. To look for the lessons that our life has presented to us, for us. To ultimately help us to evolve into our truest form.
Unlike a written piece of work, we may not be able to re-write our situations, our life or the consequences of the choices that we have made BUT by being more discerning, open and flexible we may learn and receive the guidance which most of us seek so often.