Hugo & Hemingway (not a law firm)

Two Quotes I used in class today [8-28-18]:

“The only kind of writing is rewriting.”-  Ernest Hemingway

This has got to be my all-time favorite writing quote, especially since most writers don’t want to hear about it, as I mentioned in my previous quote of today.  To write something and move on, without ever going back to edit, rewrite, revise, is not true writing.  It’s journal-keeping, or stories/poetry on the run.

Now are there those few gifted ones who can write something and have it be perfect with not an edit needed? Sure, just as there are 4 year olds who can knock out Mozart on the piano. But for the rest of us, listen to Hemingway. While I don’t say he’s the greatest writer who ever lived, it doesn’t matter.  The truth stated in this particular line holds solid and has been, and continues to be, proved over and over again.

“Adversity makes men, and prosperity makes monsters.”  — Victor Hugo

Again I’m not in love with Hugo, but he also got it right with this one.  For a simplified proof, just look at children who are spoiled and those who aren’t, and note the difference in their upbringings—for the most part, again I know there are always exceptions.

How does this quote apply to writing? you ask.

Well, if you write something and the writing instructor edits it for you or points out changes that should be made, and you ignore them and, instead, move on to another piece, and continue to do that, (“prosperity”, i.e., ease, no struggles) you’ll always have a very rough draft of everything you’ve written, but never anything quite finished as if for publication.

In order for a piece of writing to be finished, it must be complete, and to be complete is to be perfect—i.e., nothing more necessary.  It’s as good as it can be.  To reach that achievement takes the “adversity” in the quote—hard work, struggle, challenge, discomfort, even suffering, but the end result will be something produced by a true writer.  Adversity makes men (and women—not boys or girls).  True Grit, if you will. Professionals.

But it takes work, adversity, not the prosperity of just putting words down and moving on to the next piece—that’s playtime.

These two quotes cover well my intentions with this particular writing/editing class.

Day One of Writing/Editing Class

8-28-18– Well, everything went smoothly for Day One of our writing/editing class.

We have a nice group and I’m hoping I didn’t scare anyone away!

Three keywords from the two hours of discussions today:

1 ** FOCUS. Necessary if you have a lot you want to write about and feel frozen, overwhelmed, and don’t know where to start.  Don’t give up.  Choose one particular element of your story and start with that, then relax and give the writing room. It will flow out from there, and your direction will start to present itself.

Focus is also important if you have several stories which you’ve already finished (though still rough drafts) or almost finished.  For the purpose of this class, I’d recommend you choose the one you prefer and begin to read it through, looking for places that need strengthening in one way or another.

2** CHALLENGE. We talked about what a challenge it is, and hard work, to do true writing and rewriting which includes self-editing, which can be painful.  As you read through your own work, the parts that need editing will start to jump out.  And when you’ve read it through, read it through again…and again. :- )  People hate when I say that.

It reminds me of when my mother Libby was teaching sewing or crocheting. She told me, “The thing they hate me for the most is when I say, ‘Rip it out.’”   Right.  Well, I’m not trying to be popular (good thing, you say), but try not to hate me.  I’m just passing on what I’ve learned from all the classic writers before me.

3** MEMOIR A poem a student (Adrienne) wrote for her mother will fit well as part of a memoir anthology because it reflects the writer’s feelings for her mother at the time she wrote it.  Memoir is “softer” than autobiography in that it doesn’t need dates or exact anything.  It can be about impressions, feelings, and outcomes with regard to the events being described.

Memoir is not your life story, though it can be part of someone else’s through your eyes. Memoir is about an event (remember Focus) that changed you and/or your life somehow—you’ll tell us how.

With memoir you should use your own name, though you can change the names of others who appear, if you wish.  If you do, you’d want to note that in an introduction at the beginning of the piece (or book, if book-length). Otherwise, you can write it as a novel “based on a true story”.

(We’ll be discussing memoir at length next Tuesday)

Well, I’ll leave it at that for now. We talked about lots of other things, too, but these are some of the notable points to remember.

Take care and happy writing! :- )

New Class 8-28-18 through 11-6-18

“Writing is revision” — I think it was Hemingway who said that, and that’s what my latest writing class is about.  Rewriting is what separates the men from the boys and the women from the girls in the world of writing. Ask any author, though lots of writers moan a lot when I remind them of this.  They’d prefer to write something, set it aside, then write something else.  :- )

I’m happy to say I am starting a 10-week Let’s Write! writing/editing class at the Finley Community Center in Santa Rosa, CA, Tuesday 8/28/18 through 11/6/18 (with a week off in between), 2 to 4 pm.  Registration will be open until Sept 4th as a courtesy of the Finley Center, since they had the class times listed incorrectly for about a month.

It will be a departure from my usual classes and more advanced in that in the other classes I taught writing and edited the students’ work; but in this class, I will focus on teaching the art of editing, with the students editing their own work at home in between classes, using what they’ve learned, and hopefully saved in their notes, during each of the 2-hour classes.

While in class, students will pair up and edit each other’s work each week, and I myself will take turns in each group throughout the 10 weeks for hands-on direct editing of their projects.

When we’re finished, those who wish to will submit their manuscripts for publication to a Let’s Write! Anthology (main title is yet to be determined). Then, as editor, if the piece is publication-ready without too much editing necessary on my part, I will include it in the anthology.  Of course, each writer keeps all rights to his or her own work and remains free to publish it whenever they like.

And even if a piece is deemed not publication-ready, or if the student decides he or she would rather not publish, the 10 weeks will still be invaluable time spent, gathering experience editing their own work, which a real writer must learn to do.  

Even if a writer hires a professional editor such as myself to fine-tune his work, a manuscript which needs editing on too basic a level will either be denied, or the writer will be charged a much higher fee than normal. So this is an important and necessary skill for every writer to learn and, as with piano lessons or baseball, practice makes perfect.  :- )

 

 

Easy to Pay for Local or Online Editing or Writing Instruction

 

 

 

 

Easy Payment for Local or Online Writing Instruction or Editing

• Just click on your credit card below, or PayPal, to pay in advance for writing instruction or editing, with the focus on your project or the help to start one, whether fiction or nonfiction. • I also offer manuscript formatting and self-publishing assistance. • Initial FREE consultation of a sample of your work, up to 3 pages. • $40 for each hour of online edit/critique OR local (Santa Rosa area) private sessions. • 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

$40.00

 

Update August 2017

In case it has not become clear by reading other pages on my blog, my focus is on individual private editorial services more than classes these days.  Since I had to give up my studio my only outlet for classes is the Finley Community Center which is good but offers a limited schedule.

I know some people prefer a class setting rather than private/individual sessions, so they can get others’ feedback as well, and also because it’s less expensive, but I still encourage the private sessions because even though it costs more, you get much more for each dollar spent, which is important because the instruction and editing is focused on your writing and your specific needs.

While it’s nice to hear what others have to say about your writing, popular feedback can be gotten in any free writing group, or just reading to friends or family.  It’s the professional opinion you are paying for which you will take with you into your future writing, long after classes or private sessions have finished.

What I offer between classes in the way of editorial and instructional services is private/individual sessions via email where students send their agreed-upon amount of writing, preferably as a Microsoft Word attachment (after they mail me a check in advance), according to what we’ve discussed and what kind of feedback the writer wants (overall vs. more detailed, etc.).

I only charge for time actually reading or editing your work. Time spent writing emails, other correspondence or “admin” tasks are without charge.

I recommend writers write me to send me up to 2 pages of your writing as an attachment, and I will give you an initial free consultation so you can get an idea of what kinds of suggestions I might have for you. Or if you haven’t written anything yet, just send me your ideas.

I love working with writers and encouraging them to “be honest on the page”, and am delighted you found me. I’m very flexible, so let’s see if we can make this work for you one way or another.

Take care and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Valerie Serrano

 

 

I’m Back!

Hi there! It’s been a long time since I’ve written on this site and I apologize for that. Don’t tell my students/clients this but, like them, I can get plagued by and become frozen by the death grip of the dreaded (should be) Perfectionism (though it helps as an editor).

It’s a weird phenomenon that can keep me from the page for days, weeks, years at a time. Sometimes I’ll open the file to work on it (whatever file it may be) then immediately close it and walk away or find something else online to fool with (with which to fool?).

Blogging seems like pontificating more than keeping a journal for the simple fact that somebody might actually read it vs. a journal which you usually hope no one does. Someone said blog as if you are writing to yourself. That works. And I am if nobody reads this, but you know it’s not true because it’s oh so public. So there’s this weird cross between a blog and a journal, a jog? No that was taken back in the ‘80s. let’s see, how ‘bout a blurnal. Hmmm… get it? blur-nal. Fits.

Also, I’m a writer not a blogger. There’s a difference. I’ve never gotten used to this blogging thing, though I haven’t given up. Now that I’m self-publishing my novel The Archangel of Hamilton Beach (see blog by same name). Link coming!

A lot of people are plagued by the P-freeze. We think it’s too much. We have to make it just right (whatever “it” is) and it just seems like too much work or too much time or effort and we just don’t know exactly what it’s supposed to look like when we’re done, if it’s going to be good enough (for whom? is a good question to ask).

BTW I’m happy to say that three people from Let’s Write! creative writing classes who had felt overwhelmed with P-freeze on beginning and at various other times throughout just recently self-published (with my help) their memoirs of which they and I am very proud and delighted. (Please check out my Testimonials page).  They and I know the work that went into these wonderful books as does any writer who’s finished something to its completion.

Also, there’s the length to consider. Blogs are usually short and this one’s already too long! Bye. I’ll be back. I think.