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Posts Tagged ‘editing a story’

Cooking is like writing. Just ask anyone who has watched me create bruschetta. It is long, repetitive work as I chop the basil, the garlic, and the tomatoes. Out of memory and with frequent tasting, I mix in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese as, nearby, the bread toasts in olive oil or butter. From all this we can gain several lessons applicable to writing…

Lesson #1: Don’t give up before the end!

It would be fairly easy in the midst of Michael Buble’s serenading of my tomato slicing to stop. About a half an hour in it seems the task will never be completed. Excuses like, “Company will be here soon,” slip to the tip of my tongue. Yet, if I surrender to the fatigue, it would all be for naught. Writing is much the same. Many would-be authors never finish. Their tales are consumed by the daunting work they fear they could not complete. Just remember: without an ending, your story is only a bunch of chopped tomatoes.

Lesson #2: Revise.

Mere chopped tomatoes no longer, the bruschetta now has all its ingredients. Yet it does not taste quite right. I recoil as I put it to my lips and add a bit more of an ingredient. This is the time for tweaks, fixes, and revisions. This phase takes a pile of bruschetta that could never be served to company and turns it into the masterpiece guests will be talking about for weeks. In writing, revisions are the necessary tweaks that fill the novel with aroma, spice, and color. It is a common mistake to think the first draft is publishable. Chances are, it isn’t.

Lesson #3: At some point, stop second-guessing.

All this revising is well and good. Until, that is, I begin to fix parts of the recipe that were never broken. A chef is his/her own greatest critic. Eventually, well-enough has to be just that. It is time to add the bruschetta topping to the French bread. This is a magical moment, when criticism fades and taste buds rule. When writing, it is perfectly just to spend a long time fixing, reshaping, and editing a story. Nevertheless, an end to the perpetual changes must come. Know when to be satisfied with your work. Consciously choose to experience the thrill of a finished story, instead of always second-guessing yourself.

Keep writing and dreaming, friends,

Jessie Mae

 

 

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