It’s Here!

I am proud to announce the publication of my companion to this site, A Short Guide to Hospitable Writing!  Featuring new and expanded material, there’s also a selected bibliography and footnotes.

The print version is available now on Amazon at

http://amazon.com/Short-Guide-Hospitable-Writing/dp/06925266161/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1442254167&sr=8-1&keywords=eugenie+rayner . 

It’s also on Kindle!

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Summer Special: Half-Off General Manuscript Critiques!

If you have a manuscript that would benefit from a once-over from new eyes — and don’t we all? — now is the time!  For the month of July, general critiques are only 50 cents per page, half-off my usual rate! 

This will give you an idea of what will benefit your manuscript to take it to the next level.  Do you need to work on grammar?  Spelling?  Sentence structure?  Storyline pacing?  Punctuation?  Does the end ‘satisfy’ the beginning?  Is your academic paper formatted properly?  Are your poems in the best order for your intention?

Contact me soon to ensure a spot in this month-long price opportunity!  Go to my ‘About’ page for more of what a general critique entails and the contact form, or write to me directly via email at magiclampedits@gmail.com.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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.

Hospitable Writing: A Book Review of Sorts

Last night I finished reading a book that really needed an editor.  Or, rather, a better editor.

This non-fiction book was wildly popular when it was first published by a major publisher in the early 1990s, and it is still well-known among women of a certain age.  I bought the book years ago when I intended to use it as a reference in a course of study.  That study never happened, so the book sat on my shelves and made several moves with me.  Along the way, I started to read it a couple of times, but I just couldn’t get into it and put it aside after a short while, never getting past the first chapter.

When I picked it up again a couple of months ago, I had to make myself get deeper into the book, which is almost 500 pages long.  The subject matter still matters to me and I’m glad I made the effort to stay with it.  I’ll even pass the book on to a friend or two, but I will do so with a caveat because both of these women are well-read and one is a writer: try not to get bogged down in the book’s inhospitable writing and presentation.

What makes a book hospitable?  In my view, perhaps stemming from my southern upbringing, a book should be inviting.  A writer should welcome readers and strive to make them comfortable, even if the subject matter is a difficult one.  For example, this book could be shorter in length.  Maybe not by much, but even 100 fewer pages would help.  Long books are usually no problem for me — some of my favorites, both fiction and non-fiction, are far longer — but this author repeats herself quite often, and most of the time it is unnecessary.

The author’s usually dense, sometimes complicated, sentence structure meant I had to read too many sentences more than twice (yes, twice) to glean her meaning.  Some of this is due to her multi-lingual heritage — Spanish and Eastern European, in addition to English — but most of the time this could have been alleviated by a simple comma or two, or making a long sentence into two.  I wonder, in fact, if the narrative was transcribed from tapes because of the sometimes-fast and breathless style.  Still, I believe a better editor could have kept her rich language structures intact, even vibrant, while making the book more comfortable for an English-reading audience.

To the author’s credit, the book is well-researched and her notes and references are extensive.  She is a well-known Jungian scholar and practitioner with a PhD, and her bona fides show throughout.  The subject matter is one I’ve long been interested in, which is why I kept the book and why I kept reading through to the end, even when I had to struggle on occasion.  For such a long book, the typography and formatting are surprisingly well done, although the fonts are necessarily smaller and line spacing tighter than I find most comfortable.

In addition to the above considerations, then, what else helps make a book hospitable?  Readers will differ, of course, but it helps to think about what works, what doesn’t.  Something as simple as plenty of white space is important for me (see the last sentence in the previous paragraph) and is just one more example.

Ultimately it comes down to William Zinsser’s declaration: ‘Hard writing makes for easy reading.  Easy writing makes for hard reading.’  I submit that one can — and should — switch ‘editing’ for ‘writing,’ too.  When both missions are achieved, it’s a good bet the book — or story, essay, academic paper or dissertation, even a blog post — is one you can be comfortable with and you can rest in its hospitality as you read.