Salve for Souls

Saturday, March 19, 2016

THE UGLY BABY


Ma'am, you have an ugly baby.

That's what a young editor at a writers' conference years ago, seemed to say after she gave my manuscript the harshest critique I had ever received.

None of my experiences with editors before or since can compare.

Fresh from college, she had landed a prestigious position as acquisitions editor at a major magazine. Now she was considering articles for publication—mine among them. Not only was it rejected, it bled red ink from criticisms and corrections.

As I watched her talking and laughing with her little circle of cronies, I could have smacked her smug face.

Unfortunate as this encounter was, it was not a total loss. It taught me the value of ground rules at the writers' critique group to which I belonged. Our members included an acquisitions editor, a line editor and several professional writers. But there were also beginners and we believed it our duty to build people up, not tear them down.

This involved:

  1. Asking the writer what he or she expected from the meeting. Was it an edit, a listening ear for flow, help with a troublesome transition, maybe a scene or character development? It could be guidance as to what publishers might be interested.
  2. Find positive things to say about the writer's work. Respect the time and effort that went into it.
  3. Offer suggestions as to how a work might be improved. Remember we are just giving an opinion. Our words are not etched in stone and the ultimate decision remains with the author.
  4. Encourage the writer to persist. Most books and articles are not finished in their first draft. They undergo several re-writes and edits.
  5. If a work is rejected, encourage the writer to keep submitting. My devotional, "Where Your Heart Meets God's" and "Castle in the Sun" romance series were rejected ten times before being picked up by Helping Hands Press.

Those are just a few of our guidelines. Naturally, we encountered problems and challenges. But considering that our writers signed contracts with major publishing houses, I would say our guidelines worked well.


My current writers' group: Pen & Prayer Writing Ministry

Things also worked out for my article rejected by the editor from hell. My experience with her could simply have been a matter of preference and personality The next publisher who reviewed my work, gave a glowing report and the article was published in a magazine.
Maybe my baby wasn't so ugly, after all.

Flora's devotional, "Where Your Heart Meets God's," published by Helping Hands Press, explores the many expressions of God's voice. These can be as close as a Bible, nature's beauty, music, the words of a friend, even our dreams.
Find out more: http://www.amazon.com/Where-Your-Heart-Meets-Gods/dp/1622085868
Also available in "sample" 99-cent Kindle edition.
https://www.amazon.com/Where-Your-Heart-Meets-Gods-ebook/dp/B00X1LCFXK
In "Love's Sweetest Revenge," the first book in Flora's "Castle in the Sun" romance/mystery series, Liz encounters a mother bear with cubs. How could this dangerous situation possibly lead to a mysterious locket, a dream Florida vacation--and romance? Series also published by Helping Hands Press.
Find out more: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Sweetest-Revenge-Flora-Reigada/dp/1622085884
In "Love and Obsession" second in the "Castle in the Sun series," Liz and Carlos are planning a romantic wedding at St. Augustine Florida's legendary Love Tree. But Liz's ex-husband, Steve is hell-bent on stopping them and he's ready to duke it out with Carlos. Can he get past Jack and his motorcycle buddies to accomplish his evil?
https://www.amazon.com/Love-Obsession-Castle-Sun-Book-ebook/dp/B01M1O6HC4

5 comments:

  1. Perhaps that editor was sent to test your mettle. Hone you. Through the fire your baby prevailed.

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    1. I never looked at it from that perspective. Interesting.

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  2. Thank you, flora! It takes a lot of guts to lay our babies before world. They will always be beautiful to us. I find that I am very sensitive about my work. But it is good to find honest and hopefully affirming feedback.

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  3. Amen! Every writer who is consistently submitting work for publication, will be rejected. It is hard not to take it personally, but it makes success all the sweeter.

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