Thursday, December 17, 2009

Quality of Writing

Last week Jessica Faust had a post that dealt with a writer who felt terrible because his/her editor had caught a ton of mistakes that she/he felt he never should have made. I said in the comments that writing really opens you up to criticism because everyone thinks they're an editor, and it's tough. We writers are often filled with self loathing as a result.

Then INTERN had a post about how her copy editor ripped her a new grammatical arsehole with all the comments. This was surprising because INTERN's posts are pretty good. You can tell INTERN has a way with words, and is very good at what INTERN writes, so INTERN's admission of all the supposed mistakes she made was scary.

At my own work place, I am not seen as a great writer. Colleagues have seen some pretty stinky work from me, and I suspect some of thinking I'm not quite up to snuff. Ouch. It isn't worth arguing this; I would only come out looking like an angry beast, and arguing that kind of thing never changes minds anyway. What I do instead is quietly, but ferociously, edit past material and take a lot more time and care with my stuff--something yes, yes, yes, yes, FINE, I should have done from the get-go. I do this with my fiction now, so it's silly that I didn't do it for the stuff I actually get paid for. Once you stink, it's hard to remove the lingering stench no matter how hard you scrub. All I can do now is put more effort in to what I write, edit carefully, and remember that few people are fantastic writers right out the gate.

I think I have a natural inclination for writing, but it doesn't come easily. I have to work at it--in all aspects: storytelling, style, succinctness. This is common, I think.

Do you think you're a good writer? Do people respect you as a writer?

10 comments:

Tina Lynn said...

I think I have definite flashes of brilliance, but I don't think I would have them if a) I didn't write all the time...you know, practice, and b) if I didn't read voraciously. When you see the kind of awesome stuff others have done before you, you are more well equipped to do the same, methinks.

Mary said...

I think I have a natural inclination too, but it's not easy for me either. I know I'm improving. Reading helpful hints on wonderful blogs has helped a lot, but I'm sure if my college writing teacher found out I am writing the first thing he would say is "Who?" and then "Her?" - yes, my writing was that forgettable and bad. All we can do is keep plugging away at it. Like Tina Lynn said - practice and read. They're the best ways to improve.

Travener said...

Well, as someone who only recently discovered that he had missed, after a dozen readings of his ms., that he had written "kung fu mustache" instead of "Fu Manchu mustache," I think I can safely say that everyone needs a copy editor. Even blog writers who write, "...because everything thinks they're an editor".... :) I write well -- but not brilliantly -- naturally but overuse the passive voice. It's a serious failing and I have to scrub, scrub, scrub in editing.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I write well when it comes to the "rules". I struggle sometimes with wanting to "tell" too much or with POV (I sometimes forget I'm NOT always omniscient he-he). Everyone needs an editor. Everyone. :)

Jm Diaz said...

I'm horrible writer and terrible typist. Not so bad on rewrite though. And Trav, I still think Kung-Fu mustache sounds way awesomer-er.

Oh, and I used it... the word! YAY.

Melissa Marsh said...

Hmm. I think I am a good writer. I had several teachers in high school tell me this and in college, as well. What I really struggle with is allowing my writing to flow. I sometimes get so caught up in trying to write "correctly" that I lose the flow and get bogged down by horrific sentences. All I can say is, thank goodness for editing.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

It has been said that my writing is clean of errors... but when I conversationally type I usually have a ton of mishaps. (If you ever happen on a blog post right after I publish it, you'll know what I mean.)

I am spoiled from the auto-spell-check on my Outlook email at work. I should probably just copy and paste my entries from Outlook to Blogger.

Sierra Godfrey said...

Thanks for all the comments today guys...and thanks to TRAVENER FOR MAKING SURE EVERYONE COULD SEE MY HUGE ERROR (now mysteriously corrected).

Mike Chen said...

I think we all have strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to be able to view your weaknesses (hopefully on your own, but at least with the help of other writers) and compensate them or even work on them to turn them into a strength. Hello, workshops!

Meghan Ward said...

Great post! I tried to comment here three times, and it wouldn't post. Now I've forgotten what I was going to say! It was something about how I think I can write better than the average person, but not well enough that agents are jumping out of their chairs to represent me. I do hope, though, that with enough revision and persistence, I will get my book(s) published one day!

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.