Editing Angst

I’m in the final stage of editing my manuscript for publication, which means I’ve been residing for a while in that special place in hell reserved for writers. See me over there? I’m tucked away behind the third brimstone pit on your left, smoldering notes scattered about me, and laptop clutched in my sweaty hands.

I need a break. I need inspiration. So it’s time to pause for a moment and remember why, of my own free will, I chose to be in Writers Hell.


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No truer words have ever been spoken. Any writer who thinks her/his first draft is ready to make its grand appearance before the reading public is delusional. Maybe the twentieth draft. Maybe.


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I butchered my story, cutting out description, exposition, dialogue, and backstory until I stripped its skeleton of all flesh. Lord, it looks so damned bare now. Does anyone have a spare jacket?


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I argued with myself–did I take out too much? Did I leave enough to give the reader a sense of time and place? Did I adequately reach inside the minds’ of my characters, and lay on the table for all to see their thoughts, emotions, and internal conflicts? Should I include this paragraph? Should I throw out that one? On and on.


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I ruthlessly “killed my babies” (more commonly referred to as killing your darlings), and the more I killed, the easier it became to spill red ink. I learned to derive a perverse kind of joy as I dispatched words, sentences, and paragraphs without regard to their beauty and innocence. Mary Cathleen Clark became a monster, an unabashed killer of words.


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Through editing, I know I have become a stronger writer, one who won’t shy away from doing what is necessary to turn out a good story, even if it involves what feels close to self-mutilation at times.


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When all is said and done, if we don’t edit, the smoke hides the flames we’re hoping to kindle with our words. And if we fail to do that, if we fail to set fire to our readers’ imaginations, we have failed as writers.


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I can do this.



Now, I’ll take my glass of sweet tea and go back to work.

Ocean WordPress


Help! I”m drowning!

…in  email notifications.

I’m sure there are many of you in the Blogosphere, like me, who are doing their best to keep a leaky, overcrowded boat afloat here on the digital blue ocean of WordPress. You continue bailing out the water but it’s rising faster than you can keep up with it, and your boat is slowly but surely sinking in a preponderance of posts.

I can no longer keep up. I have tried–at the expense of my own writing, and living life–but I think it’s time to give up the ghost. It’s either that or spend hours and hours each day reading and commenting on posts. And there are so many good ones, so many talented artists in various fields who share their work on WordPress that I follow. I want to read you all!

But I can’t.

I have a book almost ready to start sending out to literary agents, and other writing projects begging for my attention. I have a plethora of unread books waiting to be enjoyed. I have a family. I have a life. And I require a little sleep. We all do. So I am going to limit my time on WordPress. I’ll still be dropping by about every day for a short visit, but I can’t spend the entire day, kick back, and have a nice, leisurely lunch. I’ll pop in on everyone from time to time, but I won’t be reading every post made by everyone I follow.

I hope you all understand. I think most will because you’re going through the same thing, and quite a few have it far worse than I do. (And yes, I’m talking to you, Lonely Author.)

We all have to strike a balance in our lives, or be swept up in Ocean WordPress and continuously fight against the current to hold onto our sanity–and I don’t have much of that commodity to spare as is. So even though you won’t be seeing as much of me, you will be seeing me. And I hope all of you will drop by my place too, as time allows.

Dropping Gs

This piece was previously posted on an old blog of mine, so to my friends who have read it, feel free to give it a pass; you won’t hurt my feelings.  Also, it was written before my short-lived foray into the world of self-publishing, which I found out wasn’t my cup of tea.

For those of you following Sins of the Fathers who are scratching your head and thinking: “Wait a minute, she’s dropping quite a few Gs here”, bear in mind that story was written years ago before I learned less is usually better–and a few other things.


Something has been bothering me for a few months, and maybe if I write about it here I can get it out of my mind.

Concerning my Kindle short, Saving Grace, I received a three-star review because my Southern dialect was, according to the reviewer, an “incomplete translation” due to the fact I didn’t drop my ending Gs, and I had the audacity to use words no true Southerner would, such as “skeert”.
I’ll address skeert (meaning scared) first…

Any of y’all who have followed me for any length of time know I’m as about as Southern as Southern can get. I know and use words and phrases gleaned from my youth that many people in this country, and in others as well, have never heard. Case in point: “yont”. (And no, I didn’t misspell a word, nor leave out an apostrophe.) I’m betting not many reading this post know the word–though maybe have heard it. I’ll use it in a sentence:

“Yont to go ‘coon hunting tonight?” Bubba asked Leroy. Continue reading

A Storyteller’s Tale

Like many of my fellow writers, I have quite a few manuscripts boxed up, novels that failed to find a home. And it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part. I sent them off to literary agents and publishing houses, hoping they would be taken in, nurtured, edited, sent to the press and released into the world to soar above the clouds. But the simple fact was they weren’t good enough. (There, I’ve admitted it.)

Looking back, I see now the first one was terrible, the second a little less so, and so on and so on, until now, the sixth one I have completed is undergoing an intensive reworking. Incorporating the advice of two beta readers, a professional–but very affordable–editor, and my own ideas for improvement, I am now about three-fourths through yet another draft. It won’t be the last, but future sweeps through my WIP should take considerable less time. Continue reading

Literary agents–gotta love ’em

Literary agents come in all shapes and sizes and tastes in reading material.

For example . . .

Many years ago when I first started writing, I completed a novel (Admittedly, not a very good one.) and began submitting it to literary agents. On probably about my twentieth attempt, I received a request from a well-known agency asking to see the full manuscript. Lord, was I ever excited. Then excitement reached a whole new level, moving on to ecstasy when queried agent called to say he loved my manuscript and wished to work with me on bringing it to publication.
He made several suggestions on improving the story, which I incorporated, then sent the edited version back to him. And it was at this point he informed me he was a junior agent and had to get approval from his higher-ups on my manuscript before he could take it on, and well . . . that didn’t happen. Continue reading