I’ve been busy!
Although AWP ’12 is now done and over with, I have more to do than ever, which is a good thing. “It’s better to be busy than bored,” etc. etc.
Work on my novel has picked back up. I’d taken a small hiatus away from it while prepping materials for AWP and finishing a couple freelance editing gigs. The ultimate success of the latter two items was really hit or miss. It might be March, but a resolution I’m setting for myself is to be more clear with my communications with others. In trying to please everyone with too much flexibility, something invariably gets lost in translation. I wrote that down so I’d remember it.
I’ve been reading some great books lately. Two of the best have been Adam Levin’s Hot Pink (my review of Levin’s book goes live on [PANK] March 20th) and Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan. It would certainly behoove you to read these two books at your nearest convenience. Or cancel other plans to read them. You’ll thank me later.
Tumblr is fun!
If you haven’t checked out Mike Meginnis’s simulated text adventure series EXITS ARE over at Artifice Books, you should do so ASAP! And don’t forget to congratulate Mike for having a story accepted for next year’s Best American Short Stories (BASS) anthology while your at it!!
Speaking of next year’s BASS anthology, I’d also like to congratulate Roxane Gay (who I’ve — not even secretly — got a huge literary crush on) for having a story accepted as well — this is truly BIG news for the small indie presses!!
And speaking of Roxane, it’s no secret she’s really into The Hunger Games (scroll down). “Really into” is perhaps a complete understatement. Because of Roxane’s wholly infectious enthusiasm, I was this < > close to starting the postapocalyptic trilogy myself. I’d even bought all three books and everything. That’s something i do with books, by the way — if it’s a series, I’ll buy all of them at once to A) have them all because I might possibly be a hoarder-in-the-making, and because B) I like to be prepared for the off-chance a stranger approaches me on the street and gives me a drug that turn me into a super-genius (like what happened to Bradley Cooper in Limitless), in which case I could read all of them back-to-back in a sitting or two.
But something happened…
OK, forget what I said about posting here once a week for a hot second. I’d like to rephrase it as “I will post here 1+ time(s) a week.”
I’ve been offering freelance editing services for a while now but am still fairly new to the enterprise. Most of my work has come by referral (thanks KB!), and none of it has been what I’d consider “easy” editing. I’m not going to go into detail about previous edits, but I’d like to recount my last experience, omitting/changing the client’s name.
Needless to say, this has all certainly been a “learn as I go” kind of endeavor.
I would argue—and perhaps one of Specter and [PANK] Magazines’ contributors/editors, Alicia Kennedy, can maybe confirm or deny this—that every editor has their own unique editing style, just as every writer has her or his unique writing style. Or, more specifically, every editor has her or his own unique style of initially approaching a new manuscript.
My latest project was one I was indeed excited to work on. After a preliminary read through of “Mr. Smith’s” manuscript, I thought: OK, here’s a chance to finally utilize most of the implements in my editing toolkit. By which I mean that it seemed like Mr. Smith was looking for the kind of feedback and editing advice a writer typically gets when workshopping her or his piece. Having previously attended a large number of these workshops and earning an MFA along the way, I felt confident I could offer Mr. Smith exactly what he was looking for.
However, this turned out to be…how should I put it…incorrect.
I think it came down to my editing style not being compatible with the desired results Mr. Smith had envisioned for his manuscript. This is fair—different strokes for different folks, and all that. A mistake perhaps made on my part was offering to be as communicative as possible throughout the whole process, in order to give Mr. Smith a full sense of involvement in his project. That seems like it’d be a really good thing, however, I can testify that the reality of such author involvement is “not always.”
Mr. Smith, from the get-go, wrote very long and detailed expectations of what his thoughts were, i.e. what he had questions about, what other editors had told him previously, what he was ultimately going for, etc. I subsequently set out with the information of that first email and dove into the manuscript. My style of editing for a first read through is to ostensibly do a line edit as I go and provide a running commentary by asking questions, pointing out word choices that don’t work, identifying awkward or clunky phrasing, and other edits along those lines. Pretty standard stuff. I also try to keep in mind what the client has asked for and address it in addition to my own edits.
However, by offering to keep the lines of communication open, Mr. Smith would send three or four emails during every phase of the process, which made it extremely difficult to address all of his questions, at least in any kind of order other than chronologically. One of the more difficult obstacles I’d encounter was when Mr. Smith would invariably decide items he’d asked about earlier were no longer as important as new questions he’d come up with (after I’d already addressed them earlier in the manuscript). It became difficult to go back and address each new comment/question and also have the resulting “fix” make sense with subsequent comments or edits I would make (of course, after the fact) that referred back to the changed comment (does that make any sense, or am I explaining this poorly?).
…about this blog/website.
I was also thinking of the other bazillion social media feeds to which I’ve attached my name: Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
I’m trying to figure out how to keep things from becoming redundant. This is trickier than it sounds.
My thought is to keep the blog updated once a week, Tumblr once a day, and Twitter, well, if you follow me (@JoeMOwens) you know keeping up with that won’t be a problem. Facebook, I’m just saying whatever to. It’ll probably get updated close to every day but it might not. We’ll see.
I’ve got a problem when it comes to parsing out what I want to post where. It causes me anxiety and paralysis by analysis.
This would be an entirely less significant problem if only I were a more prolific writer. But I’m not.
So we’ll just have to see how it goes…
Punctuality and good timing are not the same thing. I’m fantastic at the former. But the latter? … Not so much.
For example: This is my first actual blog post in a month–a month in which my first book was published (Shenanigans!, Grey Sparrow Press, 2012) and another edition of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference came and went in Chicago. The word from Category Thirteen? Nothing.
To call my timing “bad” is perhaps an understatement.
However, all is not lost! The book is 100% available and in-stock, and can be purchased from Amazon for $9.99 by clicking here. Initial reviews and word of mouth feedback are good, so we’ll see how that trend holds up… ( :: drums fingers nervously :: )
My AWP 2012 experience can probably best be summed up as “minimalist.” By that I mean, I spent something approximating 90% of my time laid up in my hotel room with 7th-Level-of-Hell back pain. Which, i should mention, stemmed from tripping–and subsequently rolling my ankle–over a curb while walking to my hotel, before I even ventured to pick up my customary AWP registration swag(!!). The clumsy trip/stumble/ankle-roll maneuver was enough to *tweak* my back in such a way that carrying a heavy backpack over the next couple days would exacerbate the pain to the point of incapacitation.
In other words, instead of doing fun conference-y stuff, I spent almost 24 hours just laying in my hotel bed the day before I flew back to Omaha.
The upside is that, in the small amount of time I got to spend at AWP actually conferencing, I “met” a shitload of rad people! I put ‘met’ in quotes because they were people I’d spent a great deal of time chatting with on Twitter and Facebook, but had never met in real life (a phrase quickly losing its concrete meaning).