Editing Archive

2 Become 1: An Envious Look at Collaboration

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Recently I was looking at some art in a friend’s apartment when she and her husband shared with me their tradition of making a painting each year on their anniversary. One begins on the canvas and the other finishes. Neither of them is a painter by profession—she’s a poet,

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Do White Male Editors Only Publish White Male Books?

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For most of the nonfiction books I sell, the editors I’m selling to have a lot of objective information on hand to guess at a title’s potential success: the author’s Twitter following, other books on the same subject, other books by the same author, the popularity of magazine articles

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Four Kinds of Editors (and Agents) You’ll Meet In Publishing Heaven

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A rule I learned as an editor: when you look at a book’s acknowledgments, the effusiveness of praise for an editor is inversely proportional to the effort he or she put into the book. If a writer goes on and on about her editor, that editor did almost nothing.

The Ploughshares Round-Down: Why “Do What You Love” Is Bad Advice

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 6 Comments
In 2005, Steve Jobs gave a now-famous graduation speech at Stanford University. “You’ve got to find what you love,” he said. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great

MFAs Do It Best: Your Graduate Degree in the Workforce

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When I graduated with my MFA this past May, I got a decent-paying job and the hell away from academia. I’d taught for four semesters and knew I didn’t want to do it anymore. I also knew that I had to get out of New Orleans, where the job market

Episodia 1.13: Embracing Your Dark Side

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Let me begin by confessing that this was not the post I wanted to write. All week, I have been working on an essay about female friendships on television. Unfortunately, my writer-self is not cooperating. You’ve had that moment—much like this one—when you sit in front of the computer

Writers Behaving Badly

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 3 Comments
I’m at that stage in editing my second novel where I’m confronted with my own bad habits. It’s much like cleaning out your closet only to discover you still own not one but three pairs of those chunky clogs that were popular in 1996. How have they hidden this

Reading Aloud: It’s Not Just for Kids Anymore

Author: | Categories: Writing 4 Comments
As I wrote in my last post, I’ve been reading a lot of children’s books lately, out loud to my daughter. (She doesn’t seem to hear them when I read silently.) It’s made me more conscious of how words and sentences flow together and has helped me streamline my

Gatekeepers Part Four-point-One: on why the [red] pen is mightier than the sword (and other politically useful clichés)

Author: | Categories: Publishing 1 Comment
Nearly ten years ago, when I was a twenty-year-old baby-poet with a sense of self-importance even more inflated than it is today, I organized a “Poetry in Protest” reading in Amherst, Massachusetts to demonstrate against what became, a couple months later, “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” My work screening manuscripts for

The Black Hole of Revision

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
You can potentially revise forever, as there’s always something that can be improved in your story. You could’ve added another dimension to a major or minor character. That word you used in paragraph 14, the third sentence…was that the right word? Or is there another one that is more