Friday, June 12, 2015

My First Edits


Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California. To connect with Shan, check out her website, FB, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Do you remember the first time you were edited?

I do.

I was young. Second or third grade, maybe. We were at church (so all you writers brainstorming during the sermon, take heart, you're in good company) and it was one of those especially long services. Something was different. A guest preacher, maybe? I don't know, but things weren't trucking along like I thought they should. I decided to break things up a bit with a trip to the ladies room. 

And that's when it happened. I'm sitting on the pot, kicking my Saltwater Sandals back and forth, and WHAM! Inspiration in the form of the toilet paper dispenser. (Eyes open, friends. Ideas are everywhere.)

I hurried to my seat and grabbed the offering envelope tucked in the seat back in front of me, flipped it over, and started writing. It was a song. My very first. And I could just imagine my eight year old self singing it before the congregation. The song went something like this:

Roll Master
Roll
Roll into my heart

There were verses too, but I can't remember them now. I do remember being far too proud of myself when I passed the scribbled up offering envelope to my dad. He had one of those red Bible-marking pencils. You know, so he could underline verses without ink bleeding through the thin pages.

Anyway, he took that red pencil and he EDITED my song.

He edited ME.

I remember we were supposed to stand up then, so my dad pushed the envelope into my hands and smiled. He stood but I did not. I was too busy taking in the red slashes now skewering my words.

Roll Come Master Lord
Roll Come
Roll Come into my heart

Now, in all fairness to my dad, he was just helping. I don't think he ever put two and two together. He had no idea that my inspiration came from the toilet paper dispenser in the ladies. Nor did he care. He just knew that my words didn't make a whole lot of sense to him. His red marks made my song better and, as my de facto editor, that was his job. 

I never did stand up and sing my song to anyone, but I did learn not to hand my work out willy-nilly. If you do that, you just might get more feedback than you're ready for.

Roseanna's post the other day on How to Love an Editor's Suggestions was right on. Being edited can be a terrifying, devastating experience, but it doesn't have to be. In fact, the very purpose of editing is to prevent you from putting out anything less than your best.

I was at a disadvantage there on that blue pew; I had no idea I was about to be edited. But you, you'll know. When the time is right, you'll hand off your work to someone you trust--work that probably wasn't inspired by a toilet paper dispenser--and you'll remember that there is no malice involved. You'll remember that this person, this editor, just wants to help.

And you'll be excited. Know why? Cause not everyone makes it to edits. Not everyone has a story to offer an editor. When you get there, celebrate. And when you get your skewered words back, take a deep breath and dive in.

You're a writer. 

And this is what writers do.

19 comments:

  1. I am so glad that God helped me find this blog! It's like every time I have trouble in someway with writing there is a new post on Go Teen Writers just about what I need help in! I think this post and the last is God telling me to send my writing in for review at a critique group i just joined:) A big thank you to all of the bloggers who make Go Teen Writers so special!

    Keep on writing!
    God bless!
    -Megan

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    1. I'm so glad my toilet paper story could help! ;)

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  2. I'm homeschooled, so my parents edit my school assignments, science and history papers and such. I honestly don't remember any first time, it just always was that way. And while sometimes I don't agree with it, those edits nearly always make it sound better in the end. (With the exception of when my mom tried to tell me I needed to put an "and" in a place where it just made it sound clunky and stupid--I don't like using it in a list of 3+ items, for whatever reason--or the many times my dad insisted that I needed a colon or semicolon when the comma was perfectly fine.)

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    1. Oh parents! They have their ideas don't they? But you're right. They DO (most of the time) know what they're talking about.

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  3. Not everyone makes it to edits.

    Wow. In the middle of a tough edits week, this was the reminder I needed. That the Lord has blessed to help me make it this far. Thanks, Shannon!

    ~Schuyler
    www.ladybibliophile.blogspot.com

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    1. ABSOLUTELY! Keep repeating that to yourself. You are in a much less traveled place. Try to enjoy it. Cake always helps.

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  4. YES.

    Absolutely love this, Shan. I remember the first time I handed my mom a story that she had no enthusiasm for. "Just not my thing," she said. It was a hard, important lesson.

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    1. Oh man! Isn't it funny how our biggest fans can also be the critics we remember most? Okay, maybe that's not funny.

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  5. Haha! This is such a great story!! I probably would have cried if I was you. Thankfully, I've developed more of a thick skin since second grade...thank you for sharing!!

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  6. I've gotten critiques but never a true edit. Sometimes, the comments can be hard to take but I always remember it's molding my book to be something better.

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    1. It's true. And critiques are unique, in that, they're usually coming from a peer. While you should always take a peer's thoughts into consideration, you don't need to give them the same weight that you'd give an editor's thoughts.

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  7. Haha, I love that story of your song :)

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  8. I think my first *real* edit was a couple days back on a website called writetheworld.com. It was a memorable day. Though I wonder how I would have reacted to an edit when I was younger?
    Hmm. Wouldn't have been pretty. *cough* My writing sucked *cough*.

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    1. We all sucked. But it's important for writers to know that we will get better. Growth happens--if you stick with it. We are rarely where we want to be. We're always stretching for the next growth spurt. It keeps us humble.

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  9. Oh, gosh, I also brainstorm in church. But don't worry, I make sure I listen, too. Ideas just come to me at that time!

    The first time I ever got edited... probably third grade when I submitted an article to the school paper. When it came out, I was shocked because some of the sentences had 'new' words or a sentence was omitted here and there, but when I look back at it (the original article) I'm so glad it was edited.

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  10. Wow, this really made me laugh today :) And so true, as well. "Not everyone makes it to edits" really did hit home. Thank you so much!

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