Thursday, September 4, 2008

Quotes to Chew On

Need a shot in the writer's arm today? Here are some quotes from The Artful Edit by Susan Bell that I find interesting, thought-provoking or affirming.
  • " . . . editing is commonly taught as an intrinsic part of writing, not an external tool. . . . It is vital to teach editing on its own terms, not as a shadowy aspect of writing."
  • "Most of us who write on computers are facing and continually accessing a global Internet lodged in our writing instrument. . . . In conditions of creativity that are increasingly complex, stringent editing can focus the multitasker's scuttling mind."
  • "A great many authors determine the full shape of their stories as they write, not before."
  • "For most, it is only with an unedited flow of imagination that there is anything worth revising in the end."

I like all of these, but the first one sounds like a key to my editing/writing dilemma: If I don't consider editing an intrinsic part of writing, but something separate, I may be less likely to let Editor Me run wild on Writer Me's turf.

Anything here resonate for you?

8 comments:

PJ Hoover said...

I like the last. It's hits home with my tactic of getting through a first draft as quickly as possible without stopping to edit.

Marcia said...

I find the last one affirming, too. It's okay if we discover as we go (ties into the point before). And that's in fact how my published books have gone. I wrote the drafts longhand, and Bell considers that a huge factor. But that's a whole other post.

Anne Spollen said...

This is great stuff - but so different from the formulaic way kids (and I mean high school and college kids as well) are taught to write.

Marcia said...

It is, isn't it? This is probably why some take a dim view of MFA programs, advise writers not to major in English (John Gardner), and advocate not showing your drafts to anybody, which would preclude a classroom situation. They're trying to get writers away from the constraints. To be fair to the teachers, it's hard to evaluate somebody's writing if the student can't outline where they're going or give you any idea when they'll get it written. All types of teaching that aren't pure self-instruction require a little more structure than might be ideal. What to do?

Gottawrite Girl said...

My thought was, I really do try and write without filtering at first - I overwrite, almost embarrassingly so. Then, I tone and tighten through the editing process...selecting morsels from what's there, and sweeping away the rest. I need the wild, raw material, first!

Marcia said...

I agree. The first draft needs to be discovery. You can always cut, but you can't put something in a book unless you write it in the first place.

Tabitha said...

The third - the one with the internet on my computer. Because of this, I have to do my first drafts on paper. Otherwise I can't sink far enough in to the story to really get anywhere, because I'm constantly tempted by the internet. :)

Marcia said...

Bell talks a lot about writing the draft longhand. I used to, but I now I do some longhand and then move pretty quickly to the computer. I learned to compose on the screen when I was on deadline -- but I didn't have the Internet then! Bell's real reason for handwriting is the more intimate feel between your brain and the writing. But I'm more impatient (and scrawly) with handwriting than I used to be . . . :)