It’s Not Editing, It’s Recycling!

Here’s something that you don’t hear every day, I always wanted to be a writer.  Yea, I am trying to be funny . . . . , us “wannabe’s” are a dime a dozen, right?   Getting started seemed overwhelming but with nothing but time on my hands after losing my job, I began to research.

After reading Chris F. Holm’s wonderful article “The Value of Free: Writing for Non-Paying Markets” published September 2012, Writer’s where he suggests submitting work gratis in exchange byline credit, I became emboldened.  Here was something even I might be brave enough to try!

Taking his advice to heart, I labored over a piece on green markets and submitted it for the summer edition of our local news magazine.  My first rookie mistake was failing to submit the article in a timely manner thereby missing the intended publication date!  The issue in question arrived in my mailbox three days later.  I slunk back to my desk so deflated that chocolate was the only possible fix.  Bolstered by all those lovely chocolate induced endorphins, I bravely faced the keyboard yet again.  This time, with the holiday season in mind, I recounted a story of a Christmas dinner cooking mishap in what I prayed was a lighthearted and funny manner.  I sweated over it, cried over and obsessed over it.  I edited it at least forty times and then sent it to all of my toughest critics, my parents, friends, etc.  More editing ensued.  I resubmitted to the local news magazine, hopefully in good time (this time!!!) for the winter edition.  Ultimately, it was accepted and gave me my first official byline.

Despite the thrill of seeing my name in print for the first time, editing the article was so unbelievably painful and tedious that I needed to find some way to temper the process before attempting such a feat again.  That’s when I decided to employ recycling in my writing technique.

I began to write every day.  Sometimes, I only come up with an idea and save it as such for the future.  Often, I write a few paragraphs and think they’re garbage.  Then, there are times, I write like a dervish for days at a stretch and think, maybe, what I’ve produced isn’t too bad but when I go back to it, days, sometimes weeks later, I often decide that it’s garbage, too!  Those of you who write will understand.  The beauty to all of this madness is that it provides loads of opportunities to recycle words and why not?  There is certainly enough hot air and verbal refuse saved on my hard drive, cloud storage and flash drives combined for at least five novels worth of content!

Recycling allows me to take paragraphs from various pieces, paste them together and somehow come up with something I might not be too embarrassed to post or submit to an editor because as much as my internal editor swears that I can’t write, some of it is salvageable and not all of it is bad.  So sometimes, I am able to resurrect paragraphs from the word slag heap to plug holes when I am editing or on the occasion that I do happen to like one paragraph of the dozens that I have written and would like to use it somewhere rather than scrap it, I can.

I also enjoy having a variety of things to work on at a time.  The opportunity to jump from one piece to another is refreshing, kind of like having sorbet between meals to cleanse the palate only instead, it cleanses my brain and allows me to refocus.

Sorting through my past work also helps me brainstorm for other pieces; I can pull one paragraph or even a sentence that I like from the pile of refuse I’ve created and come up with a whole new idea.  That is how I ended up with this post.  I took a horrible piece I wrote about editing and turned it into this and while I may not think it’s brilliant, it doesn’t depress me to the point where I must spend three hours watching the Hallmark Channel and eating salted caramel in order to recover!

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