Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Wallowing in My Own Mud

So we've moved. Unpacked? No. But moved, yes. Yay!

More space for the kids to run around. No neighbors beneath us. Best friends next door. I'm thrilled.

However, I'm learning stuff about myself. Though the new place was "cleaned," I have spent a lot of time cleaning. Wiping down blinds, walls, cupboards, cabinet tops, disinfecting the bathrooms . . . well, you get the idea. The thing is, I had to do all of that in my old apartment before leaving, and it wasn't nearly as gross.

And after much reflection, I've figured it out . . . in my old place, the dirt was MINE. In our new place, the dirt is someone else's. That makes it much more egregious.

The thing is, I think our books are like that, too. I see an overused adjective in my critique partner's work, I heartlessly mark it (in the nicest sort of way, of course). A nicely worded phrase that's simply unneccessary? Cross it out. Etc., etc.

When I see it in my own? But I NEED that adjective. Is the overuse really that horrible? And that phrase is BEAUTIFUL. Perfect. Necessary. I can't cut THAT.

See, but it's my own dirt. Maybe I should pretend I'm editing someone else's work for my next revision . . . Do you find it easier to edit others' work?

21 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

It's hard for me to edit other people's stuff. The "nice girl" in me feels bad and worries about hurting feelings.

Ack. Need to get over that.

Terri Tiffany said...

Glad you are all moved in. ANd yes, you said this so well. I tend to think it is easier to cross off my CPs work but when they do mine, I've had to learn not to cringe. Cause maybe I LOVED that word!! LOL

Jaydee Morgan said...

I definitely find it easier to find things like that in other's work than in my own. However, that's the good thing about editing/critiquing other works, it becomes easier to pick up those same mistakes in your own work.

Joanne said...

What I find is that someone else's eyes find things in my work that I pass right over without notice, and generally they are right. It's amazing how we don't always "see" our own inconsistencies in our work, and so another reader is really critical to the finished product.

And best wishes with your new home, enjoy :)

Lenny said...

hi miss janet! i didnt ever edit someone elses stuff. my brother does mine and hes pretty good at it. i do some of what he sayd and some stuff i like just the way i said it. editing is real important cause you could see how a reader could think about what you wrote and mostly if it could make sense.
...hugs from lenny

Sandy Shin said...

I definitely do have greater clarity when it comes to critiquing others' works. However, I'm more ruthless with my own work, because with others', I'm always afraid of causing offense.

Niki said...

haha other people's dirt is extra yucky. When I shift, the first thing I do is dismantle the toilet and scrub everything. One day I'm going to have a brand new toilet that no one else has used. hehe

C. Michael Fontes said...

Yes, much easier. For me, though, it is because I am blind to my own mistakes. I have seen the words over and over and over, and the typos, overused adjectives, and unnecessary phrases become invisible.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

I so am with you on other people's dirt in your new home~~~

I used tracking changes to edit my last piece. I think it's beneficial to try it...

Myrna Foster said...

My husband came in the room last night. "Myrna, you look depressed."

I told him I was reading a critique, and I didn't have to say anything else. I'm grateful for the criticism, but that doesn't make it fun to read.

And any other person's dirt IS dirtier than mine. ;o)

Elana Johnson said...

Interesting analogy. I think it's so true. It's always messier to clean up someone else's junk. For me, it's also MUCH EASIER to see their dirt.

In my own work, I don't realize how cluttered it is until someone points it out. And I've been cutting and rewriting long enough to know that I don't need anything. Not even my favorite parts -- which my editor just suggested I cut.

And you know what? I did. And it doesn't hurt that much, because I've had a lot of practice.

Good luck with your editing!

Raquel Byrnes said...

Its easier for me to critique my own work because I can be as harsh as I want. For others, there has to be a picking and chosing of battles, I think.

Glad you're moved in...=)

R. Garrett Wilson said...

Funny, my wife and I do that too... clean where we are moving out of just to turn around and clean where we are moving into.

I like to critique my work just as I finish critiquing someone else's. For some reason, that puts me in the mood to cross out things I might not have noticed otherwise. It is almost like training my brain to not look over things.

Jen said...

Editing others work I do find easier... maybe we should all pretend we are working on other's work! What a brilliant plan, I love it!!

Julie Musil said...

This is sooo true! Even when I read things over and over again, I still miss stuff. Love having a critique partner to point out the ugliness. Glad you're all settled in!

Samantha Bennett said...

Great analogy! I don't think I even notice the dirt in my own manuscript. It's decorative. But in my critique partner's? Bring on the red slashes!

Jessie Oliveros said...

When you live in your own dirt, you aren't as bothered by it. I think. I'm the same way about cleaning when I move into a new place. Other people's filth. Sick.

Clara said...

Ok, that was the BEST analogy EVER!
And yes, it's totally easier editing someone else's work...but no matter how hard I try, I never manage to do it with my own...oh well, that's what critique partners are for =)

Missed Periods said...

I am the same. Actually, I am kind of notorious in my writers group for cutting paragraph after paragraph of their work. I wish I could see mine with the same objective eye.

Victoria Dixon said...

Oooh, tough girl question. The answer is yes. And no.

It's always easier to line edit and nitpick away and I can do it on anyone's ms including my own. The parts I found difficult to do on mine, but something I don't necessarily THINK ABOUT on others' mss is big picture stuff. Do they need chapter two? Is it in the way? Nope. Unless it's obvious, I frequently just don't think about it. When I think about it on mine, it's like pulling out my LAST tooth. Each and every time. Do you remember all of the lovely stuff I had with Jie and his children and the dreams? It's almost all gone. I kept two dream sequences and they're paired down to about two pages. My favorite scenes of anything I've ever done. It took me three years to do it. I hope I'm not so attached next time.

Aisyah Putri Setiawan said...


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