Featured From the Archives: Sarcasm; It’s Not for Everyone

All right, I know I promised that we’d be returning to the info-filled posts of yore, but after a week of battling a heat-induced sinus-migraine, I’m a bit lacking in the spare brain cells department. Plus, I’ve done a lot of serious posts over the past months/years, and when I look back through the archives, I realize just how much I miss the more lighthearted, humorous ones. So hopefully I can bring back some of the snark I used to possess, which seems to have fallen into the same elusive black hole as my artistic skills and the socks stolen by the Dryer Gnomes. In the meantime though, this is the perfect post to help inspire some humor.

Sarcasm; It’s Not for Everyone

by Kisa Whipkey

Originally Posted on 6/15/12

By now I’m sure you’ve gleaned that sarcasm and I are BFFs. And if you haven’t, let me spell it out for you: sarcasm and I are BFFs. There, don’t you feel enlightened?😉

But while I’m a huge fan of the cleverly timed sarcastic quip, not everyone is. Some people fail to see the humor in wittily worded insults and beautifully snide observations. (There must be something wrong with them. Who doesn’t love some clever, snarky banter?) Just like I fail to see the humor in Slap-Stick, Blunder, or Practical Jokes. (Which no one will ever convince me are anything but dumb and ridiculous.) I mean, really, why is it hysterical when some moron hits himself in the groin? Or falls over trying something that’s obviously going to end with a concussion and broken bones? Or farts. Seriously, just farts. Comedic genius? I think not.

I was often told growing up that I didn’t have a sense of humor. But as I got older, I realized that, no, I just didn’t have their sense of humor. But that didn’t mean I was/am completely devoid of appreciation for all things humorous. I’m just particular about it. Which brings us to the point of this week’s rather short installment.

Humor is subjective.

And I don’t believe that any one type of humor is better than another. Really, I don’t, I swear! (She says with fingers crossed behind her back.) The important thing is that something makes you laugh. And for better or for worse, sarcasm (along with irony and satire), is what does it for me.

Why is it the perfect mate for my breed of humor? I’m not really sure. Maybe I was hard-wired that way. Maybe it’s a by-product of growing up on shows like Friends and Seinfeld (which I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit I still watch daily on re-run). Maybe it’s because it lets me be a snarky ass and get away with it, earning me approval points instead of derision. Or maybe it’s because I just can’t resist pointing out when someone does something painfully obvious and stupid.

But most probably it’s because, in my eyes, sarcasm requires the most intelligence to pull off. And I find intelligence on anyone sexy. To me, it doesn’t seem like it would require much straining of the brain to conjure up jokes revolving around disgusting bodily functions, or to create ridiculous scenarios the audience can see coming a mile away. And don’t even get me started on the number of beyond-stupid things people post on Youtube — a phenomena I have yet to be overly amused by, but that will entertain my husband for hours upon days upon weeks. Half the time, when he shows me a montage of some idiot doing things even idiots should know better than to try, he’s met with a dead-pan stare and raised eyebrow that says, “Why? Why would you waste my time with that?” I just don’t get it. Sorry. But billions of people do, apparently. Hence the long-standing success of America’s Funniest Home Videos, a show whose sole purpose is to crown the royalty of morons with $10,000 for their stupidity. Just saying.

As a writer, I have a fine sense of appreciation for the brilliant usage of words. Which, in the humor department, usually stands hand in hand with sarcasm. I like it because it’s subtle. It doesn’t stand in the room with a neon sign flashing over it’s head, screaming, “laugh now!” It’s simply a statement of the obvious. A twisted and bitter version perhaps, but still. It’s put out there and just is. You either find it funny, or you don’t. The validity of the statement isn’t void if no one finds it funny. It makes the person who said it seem like a pretentious d-bag, but the observation still stands. Case in point, I’m sure those of you that adore videos of people doing stupid things would agree that I now sound like a judgmental jerk.

But fear not, the beauty of humor is that it can often be combined, appealing to several comedic preferences at once.

Below is one of the few videos I’ve found (okay, had force-fed to me because I rarely ever hang out on Youtube) that combines both idiocy and sarcasm, and does it well. Copyright belongs to the brilliant minds of Break Originals, and I make no claims to it. I just thoroughly enjoy it and am not ashamed to say I still laugh every time I watch it. Making it the perfect way to close a post about humor. Enjoy!

Warning: Contains heavy sarcasm, people being injured, and country music. And I’m pretty sure a few exercise balls were harmed in the making of this video.

Featured From the Archives: The 5 Stages of Writing on a Deadline

As I was dredging the archives for something to post this week (after realizing that I somehow managed to lose almost two whole weeks during my latest venture into the editing cave and that I missed posting anything at all last Friday), I stumbled on what feels like the perfect summation of my current state of mind. It’s a guest post from author Drew Hayes on the 5 stages authors go through when facing a deadline, but I will point out that the same is also true for editing on a deadline. Except, as an editor, you spend your time in a strange sort of stage-meld. Currently, I’m simultaneously on Stage 5 with one project, Stage 1 in another, and verging on Stage 3 with a third. You’ll understand what those mean in a moment. 😉

So, without further ado, I present the encore performance of . . .

The 5 Stages of Writing on a Deadline

by Drew Hayes

Originally Posted on 12/6/13

 

Writing, much like grief, moves in phases. The ideal process for artistic creation is the slow, gentle growth of an idea, watching it bloom from mere idle thoughts into a cohesive, beautiful flower. Then, of course, there’s writing on a deadline. This process is more akin to trying to steer a lawnmower while your drunken uncle fights you for the wheel and a swarm of honeybees swoops about, rightfully angry about the beer bottle your aforementioned uncle threw into their hive. (If this analogy made no sense to you, congratulations on not living in the country.) Point being, writing on a deadline is a crazy, often senseless process that feels as though you’re being swarmed by painful distractions. Though, to be fair, in a perfect analogy you’d be the drunk uncle. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Stage 1: Stupidity, a.k.a., I Can Totally Handle This

This is a beautiful stage, a wonderful place that you’ll find yourself at time and again. You’ve found a project that you’re suited for and been accepted into the position. You have zero fear you can handle this, because the magic of repression has given you the power to block out what your last project was like. You do everything right in this phase; you make an outline, schedule time specifically dedicated to work on this project, and even make a step-by-step checklist. You are fearless. You’ve got this shit down cold.

In fact, you’ve got it down so cold, you’re not even stressing about it. Until that window you set up to work on the project gets chomped away by angrier, more demanding tasks that are further along in the process and soon, all too soon, you’ve hit crunch time. Now you really need to write. So you finally enforce that window and sit down to truly punch out stuff on the keyboard.

Stage 2: Holy Shit, a.k.a., What Was I Thinking?

Nothing. Not one idea. Come on, you can do this. You had a billion ideas when you took on the project. There has to be one left in your brain. Just one. You’ll do anything. Come on. Focus. Foooocus. Don’t look at the spot on the wall. It’s not mold. Because you live in a dry climate and mold doesn’t look like finger smudges, that’s how I know. And now you’re cleaning the “mold” even though that’s totally not what it was. Feel better? Oh, hey, idea! No, not about the project, butrelated to the project. Remember that outline you did? Maybe there are some ideas in that.

Huh . . . this is wordy, detailed, and totally useless. Look at Point #4: draw out deeper meaning of previous subject. They’re all like that. Everything hinges on something else, and there’s no start point. Okay, deep breaths. At least you’ve got a plan if you do ever think of a starting point. Look, there’s an old truth to writing that if you’re stuck, just write anyway. Just put words down and sooner or later something cohesive will form. Type gibberish if you must, just type something.

Stage 3: Desperation, a.k.a., Shit’s ‘Bout To Get Real

Well, it’s the last day before the project is due, and you’ve written 30,000 words of gibberish. I’ll be honest, I’m impressed with the dedication, though I had hoped eventually real words might come out. Still, let’s not give up hope yet. Maybe you can still pull something off. I mean, you’ve done this before. Go look at notes from old projects. Perhaps the secret to breaking through your block lies in there.

Wow . . . these are . . . wow. I’m around ninety percent sure having this combination of words written down is a felony, along with a serious cry for help. Also, a good half of that isn’t English. Scratch that, it isn’t even language, at least nothing a healthy mind could identify as such. No, don’t throw it out, there are children in the world who could stumble across this. Burn it. Cleanse it with fire and hope there can be forgiveness in your next life. Only when that’s done can we continue to scour for the key to unlocking inspiration.

Okay, those pages are gone, though it took them a curiously long time to burn, and the whole house smells like smoke and regret. After a bit more digging, you’ve found different sets of notes from your last project. Let’s take a gander and see what you’ve got.

Cursing.

Cursing.

Teardrop stains.

Enthusiastic cursing.

A cocktail recipe.

Eh, what the hell, seems like as good a time as any to progress to the next step.

Step 4: Booze, a.k.a., Hang On Just A Minute . . . I Know What I’m Talking . . . Here Shush . . . Just Let Me Say One More Thing And I Will — Zzzzzzz

If it was good enough for Hemingway, it’s good enough for you. Furiously hurling vodka down your throat like there’s a gasoline fire in your belly and you have no concept of how putting out a fire works, you take an alcoholic wrecking ball to your sober consciousness. Soon the ideas begin to flow. Unfortunately, they aren’t ideas directly related to the project you’re working on. No, texting your ex is a bad idea; they don’t want to hear from you. I don’t care how unhappy you think they looked in their wedding photo on Facebook, they don’t want to hear from — aaaand you’re texting anyway.

Several drinks later, you’ve worked through nearly all the alcohol stocked in your meager bar, save for the break-in-case-of-emergency last resort: Tequila. You know you shouldn’t do it, but by Faulkner you’ve come this far, and, at this point, you’d rather go down in flames than burn away gently. You guzzle straight from the bottle, downing the well-grade liquor in less time than it took for the under-paid clerk to slap it on the sale shelf. This is going to be bad.

The next few hours pass in a blur. Only snippets and highlights will remain once the alcohol has run its course:

You remember trying to order a pizza on the phone, only for the clerk to consistently reiterate that you have dialed a dry-cleaner. You are not fooled by his lies.

You know you uploaded a clip to YouTube. Unfortunately, you have no memory of what was on it, the name it was under, or even the account you used to post it. You will spend the next six months trying to find it and/or hoping you cannot be identified by the footage. That hope will eventually be dashed.

You fill more pages with the cursed writing, the arcane script that made those previous pages so difficult to burn. This time you hide them so that your sober-self cannot unmake your hard work. There can be no more interruptions, not with the rising so near.

You sit down at your computer, staring at the monitor that mocks your literary impotence with an unsullied white screen. You stick your tongue out at it. This is the last memory of the night.

Stage 5: Completion, a.k.a., Who The What Now?

As you rise slowly from the keyboard, you immediately become aware of three things. Firstly, you have a headache that would send lesser drinkers to their graves. Secondly, you slept with your face on the keyboard and will wear this waffle iron-esque mark of shame for several hours. Lastly, and most importantly, your project is complete. The crisp, neatly edited words stare back at you from the monitor, all mockery quieted. You read through them just to be sure, but everything is germane to the topic, well-worded, and grammatically correct.

You send it off to the client without asking too many questions. Better not to know, you assure yourself. Better not to ask what exactly those pages you wrote signify. Better not to wonder just what it is you might have traded away in a fit of drunken desperation.

Nope, instead you’re off to get a shower and a well-deserved bagel. Maybe you’ll even go see if there are any new projects you might be a good fit for. After all, with this beast done, you’ve got a lot of free time, and you really should try and stay productive.

***

See? Pretty perfect, wasn’t it? For more of Drew’s deadpan hilarity, be sure to check out his website and many novels. Whether you like superheroes, paranormal creatures and vampire accountants, or fantasy characters from table-top role-playing games, Drew’s signature wit and storytelling mastery is guaranteed to shine through. His work is a personal favorite of mine, so I highly recommend giving it a chance if you’re looking for quirky, sarcastic, and different from the norm. 🙂

Featured From the Archives: Motivation (Or the Lack Thereof)

Yep, I went archive-diving again. I do have new content in the works, but time, health, and other forces keep conspiring against me. Which means I either dredge something up from the archives, or post nothing at all. And since I am battling a rather large dose of the Blahs right now, this article felt particularly relevant. You’ll see why in a moment.

Motivation (Or the Lack Thereof)

by Kisa Whipkey

Originally Posted on 2/8/13

Writing requires two things to flow smoothly — inspiration and motivation. I’ve already ranted about the fickle nature of inspiration here, so today, it’s motivation’s turn.

We’ve all had those weeks where it feels like we’re carrying around 500 pounds of iron. Where even breathing is too much work, and the lure of creativity pales to that of our bed or TV. But life can’t just stop, can it? No matter how much we don’t want to deal with anything, wishing to bury our heads in the proverbial sand, we have to suck it up and carry on. And while that attitude can get you through the dreary act of day-to-day chores (barely), it’s as good as cyanide to your muse.

Muses are easily chased away by anything from stress, to illness, to exhaustion. That perfect combination of inspiration and motivation? It only strikes like a lightning bolt in a blue moon. If you wait for it, you might get a whopping 3 days a year to write, and they’ll land on days when you don’t have more than two seconds to yourself. Guaranteed. So what do you do instead? What do you do when motivation leaves your sails deflated and your muse MIA?

Just like inspiration can be tricked into making a reappearance, you can kick-start motivation. Everyone has their own methods, but here are some of mine. Feel free to give them a try if you’re suffering a bout of motivation-less Blahs, like I am.

  • Read:  I find reading relaxing, so whenever my muse decides to take a vacation without me, I turn to books. Reading puts me back in the literary frame of mind, and nothing is more inspiring than reading someone else’s brilliance. You never know, maybe some of that brilliance will rub off on you like the dust from a butterfly’s wings.
  • Listen to music: Music is such an integral part of my storytelling process that it’s no surprise this is on the list. Since it’s the root of all my inspiration, spending some quality time surrounded by the songs tied to my works-in-progress can jump-start my inner projector and get things back on track. So if you don’t already use music as the excellent source of motivation it is, try creating a playlist of songs that invoke your story in some way, either the emotional content, the visuals, or the overall tone, and see if your muse will decide to come dance in the melodic rain for you.
  • Watch TV/Go to the movies: Storytelling is storytelling, and sometimes just being immersed in it can be enough to rekindle the sparks of motivation. (Yep, I just gave you license to be a couch-potato. You’re welcome. 😉 )
  • Chat with your critique partner: No matter how lame I’m feeling, a critique buddy can instantly get me fired back up. Plus, I really hate to let people down, so my sense of guilt for being a slacker can sometimes be enough to spur me back into action. If you have a critique partner, you already know there’s nothing better for motivation than commiserating with a fellow writer. If you don’t have a critique partner, find one. It’s amazing what having a little accountability can do.
  • Work on something easier: I find blogging to be exceedingly easy compared to fiction. (Although this week has been like pulling teeth, so maybe this theory is a bust.) Anything that uses what I call “Essay Voice” doesn’t require as much thought for me. So I use it to get the words flowing. If fiction has come to a grinding halt for you, try working on something else. Either something that has fewer expectations of greatness because you’re less invested in it, or something that uses a less formal voice. Even Tweets and Facebook can count. Sometimes. Just don’t let your social-media addiction derail any motivational value you might get from them.
  • Deal with the To-Do list: I’ve found that I can’t write a darned thing when my To-Do list is as high as Mount Everest. So when my internal stress-alerts start to sound like a bomb about to explode,  I take a deep breath, set aside any thoughts of writing and tackle that list one step at a time. Eventually, I get to the end and am able to write burden free. Distraction is a writer’s worst enemy, so whether you’re worried about finances, your house needs a thorough bath, or your DVR is about to overflow and erase all your favorite shows (No? That last one’s just me? Awesome), face the demon. Take the time you need to deal with that particular set of worries. Balance your checkbook; figure out where all your money is going and how to stop bleeding green. Clean your house. Watch those shows. (I really want you to be a couch potato, don’t I?) Do whatever you have to in order to clear your head. Then get back to writing, when motivation isn’t being buried beneath six feet of stress.
  • Take a nap/bath/shower: Creativity is akin to dreaming in many ways, so doing things that promote that state of mind always helps. For me, those activities are sleep (which is also beneficial if you’re a walking zombie and can’t even function, let alone write), or anything related to the shower. Don’t ask me why the combination of hot water and bubbles cues up the movies in my head, but I swear, the shower is the best place for me to write. If only they made waterproof laptops I could install in the tile wall. Point is, whatever location is most conducive to your imagination, go there. Maybe it will trigger something.
  • Force it: This rarely works for me, as evidenced by the somewhat lackluster drivel of this post, but for some people, it’s the only answer. If I try to force it, kicking and screaming like a kid about to go to the doctor for a shot, I spend the whole day staring at a blinking cursor and end up with four sentences I delete later anyway. So this is a last resort kind of thing for me. But maybe you’re the kind of person that can grit your teeth and force your muse to play like a bully forcing an unlucky victim into a locker. If you can, then more power to you. My muse is too fragile for that kind of brutality. It would leave me forever if I tried that approach.
  • Give up and wait for the Blahs to pass: Sometimes you really just need a day off. I’m an admitted workaholic, so I take a true day off once every 3-4 months. (A “true day off ” meaning that I plunk my butt on the couch and watch as much TV as I can in a single day.  See?  You wouldn’t be alone in couch potato-land. Come join me; it’s fun!) And I immediately feel guilty for it. But sometimes, you really just need to recharge the batteries. Our beloved phones can’t run on empty, so why should we? Remind yourself it’s okay to be a slacker every now and then, and give yourself a break. The Blahs will pass once your battery hits full and motivation will return with a vengeance.

Now, it’s your turn. What are your strategies for jump-starting motivation? Maybe you have some nifty tricks up your sleeve that I haven’t tried yet. Feel free to share in the comments below.  😉

Featured From the Archives: The 10 Best Things About Being an Editor

The past couple weeks have been rough. Let’s just put that out there right now. The stress, the anger, the pain, and ultimately the tears have left me feeling battered, bruised, and downright defeated. And as I stand at the bottom of the avalanche, staring down a gauntlet of deadlines so insane it makes me want to throw in the towel and walk away, I can’t help but feel like I’m losing some of the reasons that made me want to become an editor in the first place.

I could have pulled one of my bleaker, exposé type articles detailing many of the things I’ve experienced yet again in the last fourteen days, but I don’t want to dwell on that. I’m already broken; I don’t need the reminder of how I got here. So instead, I’m gonna pull one of the happier posts, not because I feel like it necessarily deserved to make the rounds a second time, but because I need the reminder. I need to remember the good part of this editing life before the bad pushes me out of it completely.

And what better way to do that than to reexamine the best parts? So, for the second time, I give you:

The 10 Best Things About Being an Editor

by Kisa Whipkey

Originally Posted on 6/12/15

There have been a lot of articles floating around the interwebs lately detailing the uglier side of editing, the harsh reality and bitter truth that publishing generally prefers to keep hidden. And I’d guess a lot of you are wondering why anyone would sign up for a job that clearly comes with a large side of misery. Or, if you’re a fledgling editor, you’re probably thinking it won’t happen to you, that those of us “griping” are just jaded old farts yelling “GET OFF MY LAWN!” at anyone who comes near. But trust me, you’re wrong. It will happen to you. I said I’d never fall prey to it either, and now look. I struggle daily to hold on to the passion and enthusiasm I started out with, to avoid turning into that hateful, jaded editor I said I’d never become. Because, you see, being an editor is a lot like being a statue in a sandstorm. Each stressful project wears down a little more of that initial optimism and joy, replacing it with marble-lined walls nothing can get through.

But it’s not all bad. And this isn’t going to be one of those bare-all-the-skeletons-in-the-closet type of articles (in case you didn’t glean that from the title above). No, to counter-act the very valid, albeit depressing, truth behind the editing life, I’m going to show you the good, the reasons we battle our way through the ugly, day after day after day. The reasons, when asked, we’ll still tell you we love it and it’s the best job on Earth.

I give you, the ten best things about being an editor, in no particular order and with just a touch of snark. 😉

1. Nerdery Welcome

If you’re an editor, you’re an avid reader. You have to be. It’s literally job requirement #1. Okay, proficiency in grammar is probably job requirement #1, but you know what I mean. You are a self-professed book nerd and you wear that label proudly.

But growing up, you were likely teased for it. A lot. While others spent their afternoons playing video games, sports, or lusting after the opposite sex, you were Belle from Beauty and the Beast, walking around with your nose stuck in a book. Admit it, this was you:

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Well, one of the best things about being an editor is that your unabashed love of all things books is returned and fed by others who also unabashedly love books. All those things that riddled your childhood with taunts are no longer a weak point. The fact that you’re a book nerd is par for the course, and in fact, nerdery in all forms is highly encouraged. They say that nothing beats finding your people, your tribe. Well, book nerds, the land of editing bears its nerd flag proudly, and if you have the skills, you’re more than welcome to add your sigil to our banner.

2. Buying Books Becomes a Business Expense

This is legit. Seriously. Part of an editor’s job (especially an acquisitions editor) is knowing the ins and outs of the book-buying market. And how do you accomplish this? By buying books. No joke. Therefore, those extensive receipts from Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and whatever other book haven you haunt, become what is known as “market research” and according to my tax professional, that is a deduction. **Note: I’m not a tax professional and make no claims to be. Make sure you talk to someone who is before taking my word for it.

As if we needed another reason to buy books, right?

excited-baby

3. Hoarding Books No Longer = Mental Disorder

Ah, yes. This is probably one of my favorites. I am a book hoarder. There, I admitted it. My apartment is crammed to the gills with books, to the point that one of the first comments any visitor says when they walk inside is, “Man, that’s a lot of books!” The second is always “Cool weapons,” but that’s a story for another time.

The point is, I like books. No, scratch that, I LOVE them. I love their smell, their feel, their beautifully linear sqaureness (Don’t ask. It’s been noted before that I have a touch of OCD). And someday, I will own that library from Beauty and the Beast. I will!

Anyway, this habit to collect books in droves has long been considered strange, obsessive, and cause for concern for any who have to help me move. But guess what? No one bats an eye now that I’m an editor. All that judgment I used to have to fend off gets checked at the door. It’s considered normal and, apparently, is completely understandable now that I live my life surrounded by words and literature and the soothing smell of printed paper. Now my only problem is my lack of shelf space. (Thank God for Kindle!)

Books

4. You Become a Mystical Rainbow Unicorn with Super Powers

No, not really. But it will feel that way sometimes. I believe I wrote before about how I considered “Editor” to be an unattainable, near-mythical job title when I was younger. Well, apparently, I’m not alone in that. People seriously look at us like we’re some shimmery Fae creature that can’t possibly exist in real life. And I’m not talking about writers, whose reaction is usually more akin to the fangirl/fanboy response of a super-fan at a rock concert angling to get backstage. No, I’m talking about everyday people who have no affiliation to the publishing industry whatsoever. There’s an impressed awe that tends to come across someone’s face when I mention what I do for a living (no, not the Day Job of Doom part). And honestly, who doesn’t want to feel like a rock star, even the literary kind?

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5. Books! Books! Books!

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I think that’s self-explanatory, don’t you? Moving on . . .

6. It’s Intellectually Challenging

Now we’re starting to get into the more serious reasons editors become (and stay) editors. So I’ll try to hold the sarcasm in check.

This one in particular is probably one of the main things I find appealing. Editing is like Crossfit for your brain. It’s often mentally taxing and can leave you feeling like you’re seconds away from having your eyeballs abandon ship, but that’s also part of why it’s fun. Not the mutinous eyeballs part. The mental gymnastics.

The best editing projects are like a massive puzzle, requiring you to shift and move and tweak and tune things until, like a camera lens, the focus snaps into place and the picture becomes perfectly clear. I love that feeling, and for me, it is a visceral feeling. I know the rules and regulations, but honestly, I edit primarily by instinct. I’m lucky to have been born with an innate sense of storytelling (and yes, I have had people tell me its a superpower) and I can actually feel in my bones when a narrative clicks into place. That sensation alone makes all the hard work, all the sweat and blood and tears (because editors expend those just as much as the authors do in this process) worth it.

puma

7. Proud Teacher Moments

If the last point wasn’t enough to convince you that being an editor is awesome, this one should. Yes, I just said that feeling a story find its groove makes it all worth it. And it does, but this is the icing on the cake. Completing a project definitely feels good, I’m not going to lie. But there’s one thing that feels even better:

Watching your author step into the much-deserved spotlight, their polished, perfect new book-baby clutched in their hands.

I call it the Proud Teacher Moment, because that’s the only way I could think to describe it. I imagine it’s very similar to the swell of pride and emotion teachers feel when they watch their students graduate. It’s sort of a bittersweet sensation — one part love, one part pride, one part sadness. Most people don’t realize how invested editors become in the projects they work on. Yes, the author wrote the thing, but we helped train it, helped shape it into the perfect piece of literary brilliance flourishing out in the world. And that creates a special bond. We may be relegated to the shadowy corners of the hell writers call the Editing Cave, but we watch from those shadows, cheering our authors on with proud tears glittering in our eyes.

Make Good Choices

8. Discovering Hidden Gems of Awesome

Okay, now that we had our little moment of seriousness, back to the fun. This one is a perk that most people automatically know — we get to read (and find) awesome books before they’re published. Boom. Go ahead and be jealous. You know that’s totally awesome.

Bejealous

9. Creating Magic

Writing is a magical process. I mean, come on, authors paint fully-realized worlds, characters, and plots that elicit emotions in readers with words. Letters on a page. That’s pretty magical, if you ask me.

Editing may not seem all that magical — it’s more like polishing a car than say, painting one — but it has its own kind of magic. Especially in the developmental phase. Editors are like spirit guides, helping authors find their way when they get lost in a forest of words. The best ones can actually step into an author’s voice, mimicking their syntax, their style, with the efficiency of a Pooka. Which, come to think of it, may be the perfect analogy for editors in general, given the oft-touted love/hate relationship writers have with us.

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Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that writers create magic, but editors help contain it. And for that, we need our own set of spells.

10. For the Love of All Things Books

When it really comes down to it, there’s only one true reason someone decides to pursue editing: a genuine, deep-rooted for all things books. The reasons listed above are great, but if I lost all of them tomorrow, I know I’d still have a love for books. Because nothing beats the ability to escape into a million other lives and worlds. It’s even been scientifically proven that reading enhances our ability to empathize. It’s a fundamental human gift, storytelling, and it’s one I will always cherish.

And that, my friends, is why I adore being an editor. Why I strive to look past the gritty, harsh truth of an editing life. I love storytelling. Plain and simple. And I love editing because it lets me pursue that love of storytelling. I enjoy the process, as painful as it may be sometimes, because I love the challenge, and I love helping others achieve their literary dreams. And best of all, I love that I get to spend my days surrounded with all things books.

I can’t sum up this last point any better than with this quote:

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Happy reading!

Featured From the Archives: Camp NaNoWriMo and the Impatience Demon

So it occurred to me today that it’s July. Yes, I realize I’m a little behind and the explosions ricocheting around my neighborhood last weekend should have been my first clue, but whatever. Point is, it’s July, and there are probably quite a few of you out there slogging your way through Camp NaNoWriMo. Did you know that I tried it myself a couple years ago? Well, I did. And even more pertinent to the conversation, I wrote an entire series of blog posts about it:

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Procrastination Monster
Camp NaNoWriMo and the Perfection Plague
Camp NaNoWriMo and the Impatience Demon
Camp NaNoWriMo and the Final Outcome

So, in the interest of finding something entertaining to post this week, I’ve decided to feature one of those humorous articles. This particular post is about a lovely creature I dubbed the Impatience Demon, and while it was written with Camp Nano specifically in mind, I think many of you will be able to relate. The tips I give at the end for how to vanquish said creature can be applied to any aspect of writing, editing, or even just life. Enjoy! 😉

Camp NaNoWriMo and the Impatience Demon

By Kisa Whipkey

Originally Posted on 7/19/13

All right, week 3 of the REUTS Publications Camp Nano Team Competition is ending, and I’m starting to look like the stress ball I’ve become. My hair has definitely taken on a few more strands of silver, Carpal Tunnel has taken up permanent and painful residence in my right wrist, and I’m pretty sure my blood is now caffeine. And don’t even get me started on the pounds I’ve packed on thanks to stress-eating several tubs of ice cream. Yeah, I told you this wasn’t going to be pretty.

Turns out, there’s a downside to curing the Perfection Plague. Just when you think you’re free and clear, it appears. Spawned from the depths of river I-Can-Actually-Do-This located in 50,000-Words-in-a-Month-is-Nothing land, the Impatience Demon will take every shred of patience you have and maul it into nonexistence. And if you’re already an impatient person, well, sorry to say, you’re just doomed. You may as well have a bullseye tattooed on your forehead, because it’s coming for you, and, like the Grim Reaper, there’s no escaping it.

(What? Every camp needs a good ghost story, doesn’t it? 😉 )

I’ve never considered myself a patient person. In fact, before I discovered the beauty of headphones, I was that kid that asked, “Are we there yet?” every 5 minutes on a road trip. So it’s not surprising that Camp Nano’s Impatience Demon found an easy target in me. What is surprising is the level to which it pushed me, sending me so far off the cliffs of bitterness and resentment that I became paralyzed. I’m sure you can guess what happened to my word count after that. Yep, last week was definitely not my shining moment, productivity-wise.

What does an Impatience Demon haunting look like? Well, something like this:

You wake up feeling slightly sick to your stomach but sure you’re going to get things done. A few deep breaths and you’re good. You’ve got this. Until you realize that, oh crap, you have to go to work or that empty refrigerator isn’t going to get filled.

Grumbling, you punch in to your daily sentence at the Dreaded Day Job, only to get slammed with things that interfere with even thinking about writing, let alone sneaking a few minutes to do it. But you push through, growing more and more resentful with every paper that lands on your desk.

Eventually, your time is up and freedom is yours. Except, oh yeah, you have to put gas in the car. You roll up to the gas station, and it’s got a bazillion idiots all lollygagging around the pump like it’s an ice cream social. When it’s finally your turn, you run into problems with your rewards points, say “screw it” after a few failed attempts, pay full price and head home — only to get stuck in traffic. Every jerk on the planet decides to cut you off, because, apparently, understanding the concept of merging lanes isn’t required to obtain a driver’s license anymore, and you end up inching feet at a time until that 7 mile drive feels like 200 and you’re pretty sure you could have walked home faster.

You step in the door with a few minutes left before dinner, but you still don’t get to write. There’s a pile of bills you have to deal with first, and you watch your bank account dry up like a puddle in a drought. That’s Okay though, you didn’t really want to eat this week anyway. It’s now dinner time, so you scrounge around in what’s left of last month’s groceries and concoct something passably edible.

Now you get to write, yes? Nope, because there’s laundry to fold, dishes to clean, people to pay attention to, and oh yeah, your DVR is about to implode. You tackle all of these things, growing more and more irritated at anything that stands between you and the computer until finally, you get a moment to yourself to write. There’s only one problem, you can’t concentrate.

Focus? Yeah, you kiss that goodbye as it floats out the window on the laughter of the Impatience Demon.

Sounds a lot like the Procrastination Monster, doesn’t it? Except for one major difference — the Procrastination Monster gets its power from distraction, while the Impatience Demon’s comes from a lack of control. You want to write during an Impatience Demon attack; you just can’t, resenting everyone and everything that keeps you from getting to your manuscript.

I was actually shocked at how quickly I went from happily going about my daily routine to uttering streams of expletives worthy of a sailor over every little thing. I have never hated folding laundry so much. Or checking social media. Or answering emails. Or even watching TV! And you know  there’s something wrong if I’m resenting the DVR. That’s when I figured out I was being haunted, that my impatience had reached such a toxic level, I was in danger of burning everything to the ground in frustration.

So I did the only thing I could — I walked away. I disconnected from everything, buried my head in the proverbial sand for a couple days and pretended the Demon didn’t exist. Not my smartest move; it completely backfired. When I came back, the Demon was still waiting for me, except now it was armed with a mess-load of things I was behind on.

But if I failed to exorcise the Impatience Demon, how is this lesson helpful? Because, Grasshopper, I didn’t fail.

Yes, I lost the battle, but admitting that I lost allowed me to find my fractured focus, pick up the pieces, and glue them back together with a renewed sense of purpose. I called on all the Martial Arts training I’ve had to find discipline and all the tricks from decades of fighting depression to forcibly change my thinking back to the positive. Essentially, I stripped the Demon of its power. And you can too.

When you find yourself starting to drown under the avalanche of things you can’t control, hating everything around you and sending your loved ones scrambling for cover from your fire-breathing nastiness, try this:

Step 1) Find an appropriate outlet for all that pent up rage.

Go for a run, punch something (preferably not your loved ones), escape to the library, the beach, or anywhere that grounds you in tranquility for a few hours. You’ll feel the Demon’s poison leech from your brain, and when you return home, you’ll be ready for step 2.

Step 2) Remind yourself to see the silver lining.

This step is the hardest. It takes a lot of will power and self-realization/acceptance to change your thinking. But it is possible. All it takes is stepping outside of your negative thoughts, realizing that your perspective is skewed, and forcibly changing your thought process to focus on positive things instead. (I make it sound so easy, don’t I? Trust me, it’s not. It’s taken me years to even become moderately capable at it.)

For example, say you’re royally ticked off about having to do the dishes, your thoughts swirling around an image of breaking plates on the wall. Recognize that thought as negative, realize that your emotion is far more violent than the situation warrants, and press pause. Now, try to think of what’s good about this particular activity, like the fact that you won’t have smelly dishes stinking up your kitchen, the feel of the warm water, or the smell of the soap. Once you have that positive thing in mind, press play again and your thoughts will take on a rosier disposition. See? Not that hard once you figure it out. The hardest part is recognizing when your thoughts take that turn down Negative Lane.

Step 3) One step at a time.

Now that you’ve let go of all your angst, the Impatience Demon is gasping for life. You’re just about free from its clutches. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, like everything is out of your control, take a deep breath and focus on a single task. Forget everything else. Put blinders on and just get that one thing done. Then move on to the next task on the list, focusing entirely on that one, and so on. Before you know it, you’ve conquered the entire list! Pretty slick, huh?

And there you have it. A simple remedy for surviving the Impatience Demon’s attack. I’ll bet, if you listen hard enough, you can still hear the echo of its last cry as it disappears in a poof of smoke. Feels pretty good, doesn’t it? Now take your victory and get back to writing. I know I’m going to. I’ve got one week left and a massive number of words to make up!