A Sabbath Summer of Zen

“Trust the wait.  Embrace the uncertainty.  Enjoy the beauty of becoming.  When nothing is certain, anything is possible.”

From mindsetofgreatness

Those eleven words are the most I’ve written all summer, and – obviously – I didn’t write them.  It’s been a strange two or three months.  I’ve felt like I’ve been in a trance of some kind.  When I need to, I can accomplish something like doing the dishes after supper or going to a meeting, but I have not been able to write.

Rather than get frustrated or anxious, I’ve learned to ‘go with the flow’ and not question what’s going on.  When I went back to school as an adult, the mantra among the professors and other students was ‘trust the process.’  Sometimes it was uncomfortable, but I did it then, and I’ve done it ever since.  For some reason my body must need this rest, so I remind myself to ‘trust the wait.’

At the same time, I miss being here, I miss writing and the current stalled work-in-progress.  So, after wracking my brain almost all summer for something positive to post here, at least on occasion, I may have had a mini-brainstorm a few minutes ago.  I think maybe I burned myself out with the daily writing prompts of the Prompter Room, but so many folks responded positively to those posts I don’t want to stop them altogether.

Here’s what I’m going to try: I will post something much more simple, and only two to three times a week.  The posts will consist only of a saying or quote or inspirational message – in other words, I won’t insert any of my own words that might get in the way.

If I had the technological expertise, I could dress up the words as a banner or poster with appropriate backgrounds and the like, but I can’t.  Each post, then, might seem sparse and spare, especially compared to before – but maybe that’s a good thing.

Of course, if you’d like more wordage or encouragement, you’re always welcome to browse through the almost-year of earlier posts.  And the tabs up in the menu bar are always available, too.

Thanks to everyone who’s stuck with me here, or followed me anew, through my summer of silence!   I appreciate you all, and I hope this has been a good season for you in health and words and blessings.  More soon!

~~ Genie

That Horn You Hear is Mine

Note: This is more a reminder to myself than blatant self-promotion.  It’s something of a written ‘selfie,’ I suppose, so read with that in mind, please.

I usually shy away from using the pronoun ‘I’ to start anything I write, but today I’m going to use it on purpose because I’m going to blow my own horn.

I do that even less than I start my work with … you know … but here’s why I’m doing both in this post: I’m a damn good editor.  There, both ‘I’s and the horn in one sentence.  In bold italics, too.  Wow!

I started thinking of this last week. I was in the hospital sleeping off (kind of) the general anesthesia I’d had earlier on Tuesday for a catheter ablation and, for some reason, I started thinking of all the people for whom I’ve served as editor.  Then I started to recall all the different projects they have shared with me.  This train of thought was inspired, I believe, by the teamwork of all the medical staff who worked on and with me for the procedure: the surgeon, of course, but also — and especially — the pre-op, OR, and post-op nurses and nursing assistants, the lab folks, the food service and housekeeping staffs, even the pre-op registrar.

We all need a team around us as we work — family, friends, colleagues to support and encourage us in our solitary writing times.  As an editor, too, I prefer to work as a team with each particular author.  I don’t, and won’t, work alone with another’s words.  I cannot presume to give voice to another’s words and vision on my own, and so I relish the opportunity to get to know each author, to communicate with her on a regular basis, to make suggestions for him to consider, to offer ideas for us both to try together.

As I thought of all the years I’ve done this editing gig — this work that I love, and all the people, all the projects and manuscripts I’ve worked with  — I realized that I am a team myself, too.  The majority of good editors are, and we have to be, but it’s according to a different definition of ‘team.’

This team knows how to edit Steampunk stories, vampire novels, poetry collections, humorous and spiritual memoirs, academic papers and dissertations, essays and other creative non-fiction, fantasy and mainstream short stories, even pastoral theology for the various intended audiences because I have written in all of these — and other — genres.  I know how to spell and punctuate according to British, Australian, Canadian and American customs from a lifetime of reading and studying a wide variety of world literature from the earliest of days to last week, along with the most up-to-date journals and manuals.   In other words, then, I am backed up by the sometimes-centuries of unseen writers who have gone before me, on whose shoulders I am privileged to stand, and what they’ve taught me.

I am beyond grateful.  I am also well aware that my own writing may not — and in some cases, does not — compare with some of the writers I’ve read over the years.  The important thing in my teambuilding, though, is that I’ve tried my hand at the different genres. I made it a point to stretch myself, sometimes going beyond my comfort zone (as when I wrote zombie and vampire stories), for my own benefit, but especially to improve my editing work.

That’s what teams do best: we encourage each other to reach beyond what is normal, what is usual.  I’ve found that because I’ve done so myself, I can do so for others as well.  Together, then, our work ensures my clients that their words are in good hands. They can entrust their words to me because I am a damn good editor.

How Do You Work Best?

Note: A short time after I posted this, I realized I’d already published it here with a different title.  I was going to take it down, but I received a comment or two immediately and decided to keep it up.  In the interim, I had the opportunity to read an article about something very similar, which bears out — and says better and in more detail — what I was trying to express.  The article can be found at NPR.com.  Look for the title ‘In a Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks are as Relevant as Ever’ from May 27, 2015.  Be sure to read the comments, too!

Do you have or utilize different writing/creative processes for the different genres in which you write?

When I write poetry, for instance, I have to start and finish the first draft in longhand. Once I start refining a poem, I can do it on the computer – though it always seems better when I stick to pen and paper – but it always has to start with the physical process. The pen has to channel my images and thoughts onto paper. And I need silence. Lots and lots of silence, and no distractions.

When I write fiction, I usually start that same way, but then I can easily go to the computer or go back and forth between the two as I craft the final product. Again I need silence for this, but there can be the (very) occasional and short-lived distraction.

Creative non-fiction is the easiest to compose on the computer, for some reason. And I can work on something with other things going on around me.

I’ve always been intrigued at these differences. So here’s the question: How do you work best in your various genres and why?