Entries in editing (4)
“Work is love made visible.” -- Kahlil Gibran
In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to send a heartfelt “thank you” to all my clients, past and present, for the honor and pleasure of working with you to help you tell your stories. In his book The Prophet, poet Kahlil Gibran asked:
“And what is it to work with love?
It is to weave the cloth with threads drawn from your heart, even as if your beloved were to wear that cloth.
It is to build a house with affection, even as if your beloved were to dwell in that house.
It is to sow seeds with tenderness and reap the harvest with joy, even as if your beloved were to eat the fruit.
It is to charge all things you fashion with a breath of your own spirit,
And to know that all the blessed dead are standing about you and watching.”
I shared this excerpt from Gibran’s poem with a networking group a few weeks ago, when I was asked to talk about why I do the work that I do. It struck me that it seems relevant on this day when we celebrate love. When I collaborate with clients on book projects, the work is indeed love made visible. The photo with this post is a selection of client books (arranged more or less in the shape of a heart). Each of those books is the result of the author’s passionate desire to share their expertise and ideas with the world, and it’s my delight to help them make that happen.
When I work with clients on their blogs, journal articles, and email newsletters, that too is work in which love is made visible (albeit in digital rather than physical form). Again, there is the client’s desire to communicate in a polished, effective way with a particular audience, and I love putting my editing, writing, and content development skills to work in the service of that goal.
So a special Valentine’s Day thank you to my clients, collaborators, and friends of Blue Pencil Consulting. Maybe your story is the one I’ll have the privilege of working on next...
Though shiny new technologies have given us more ways to communicate, the basics remain the same: Be clear, get to the point, banish meaningless buzzwords, and provide key details that convey your expertise, credibility and professionalism to your target audience.
On Thursday, December 9, I'm teaching a workshop at the Enterprise Center at Salem State University (www.enterprisectr.org) called "Put It In Writing: Shaping Your Business Through Words." This hands-on workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and will provide you with techniques for creating effective proposals, reports, business plans, memos and investor pitches. Bring your company mission statement or description and learn a process for improving it on the spot.
This free workshop is co-sponsored by the Small Business Development Center. Register at http://businesswritingdec9.eventbrite.com/
Hi, Neighbor! Pull out your cardigan sweater and be neighborly tomorrow, because March 20 is “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day. The creation of Family Communications Inc. in Pittsburgh, PA (www.fci.org/neighbor), this annual event celebrates the late Fred Rogers (known to certain generations of TV viewers as the gentle and kindly Mr. Rogers) and his legacy of neighborliness on his birthday. Neighbors everywhere are encouraged to wear their favorite sweater and promote neighborliness through actions as simple as saying “thank you” or offering a smile, kind word, or sympathetic ear.
“Okay,” I hear you saying. “I’m all in favor of neighborly behavior, but what does this have to do with editing?” I suppose it’s part of my philosophy about working with clients on their writing. Over the years, I’ve found that it’s important to offer encouragement along with the edits. Whether I’m polishing a blog post or helping a client untangle the ideas in a journal article or book manuscript, some kind words or a little commiseration about the struggles of expressing ideas clearly can go a long way in helping a client understand that I’m working with him or her as a partner in this grand enterprise of communicating via the written word.
When I’m working with you on a piece of your writing, I’ll always let you know what I think is good and what’s working. And if there’s something that’s muddy or that could be improved so your message gets through loud and clear to your target audience, I’ll let you know that too – with kindness and tactful directness. We’ll work together to make those words shine and sing, so you and your ideas make a great impression.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find my favorite cardigan and most comfortable sneakers before spreading a little kindness in my neighborhood. I encourage you to do the same in yours.
For fun, this month I am participating in National Novel Writing Month (also known as NaNoWriMo), which means I have made a pact with myself and thousands of other NaNoWriMo participants that I will write a 50,000-word first draft of a novel between November 1 and November 30. Tonight I got that word count up over 10,000 words, so I'm one-fifth of the way there.
Is it deathless prose or great literature? Not at all, not yet -- it's presently a glorious mess of characters and plot threads that skitter off in contradictory, unexpected directions. And that's what makes it so much fun. Because this is my third year doing NaNoWriMo, I know that whenever my inner professional editor pipes up and starts fretting about sentence structure or plot continuity, I simply need to remind that editor and myself that my goal is to pound out the draft this month. I reassure the editor that I can clean up later, during the revision process, and then get back to writing that draft.
I think of participating in NaNoWriMo -- or the drafting phase of any writing project -- as being much like a kid who has been allowed to take out the art supplies and create, without worrying about whether she's wiping up the spilled paint or erasing the smudges as she goes along. The time for cleaning up is after the party. Earlier today, I was talking to a book editing client who told me how helpful she found this analogy when she was in the process of revising and reshaping the manuscript for the second edition of her book. It helped to free her up to just write new sections and rearrange others without getting stuck in "self-edit mode" when she needed to be creating. Yes, the editing is vitally important for a polished end product, but trying to edit and draft at the same time can bring a project to a standstill.
So have that messy party first -- you can clean it up later! And if you want to know more about National Novel Writing Month, visit www.nanowrimo.org for more info.