Rendered Fat Content


Odilon Redon: Centaur Taking Aim at the Clouds (1895)

"Edit with a light heart."

I might fairly characterize much of Publishing as painstaking, but that term connotes the wrong sense. The work should not evoke pain, for it seems the soul of the Until It's Fun, It's Better Left Undone sort of work, best not thought of as work at all but play. With all the picky copying and pasting, copyediting and formatting, reading then reading again before proofreading one final time, any of this effort could easily seem dreary, long lonely slogs through barren territory. It comes in pieces and remains as disjointed pieces through most of the process intended to transform raw writing into something finished, but the manuscript takes on the spirit of whoever engages in creating it. If the assembling's drudgery, so the finished work shall be. The manuscript becomes the heritage of whatever vibe created it.

So painstaking might properly characterize the assembler's careful focus, but it connotes the wrong feeling.
The proper sense with which to engage might be better labeled Joystalking, for future readers will notice if the coming together doesn't happen with a joyful spirit. The author/assembler will notice, too, and invent excuses to avoid the effort. He'll report slow progress instead of admitting that he's stalled, and he stays stalled until he manages to muster a better premise for proceeding. His final creative act in the long succession from writing to publication occurs when transforming this scut work into a party, a continuing celebration!

Truly any work, fiction or nonfiction, mustered from conception to distribution, seems worthy of celebration. However poorly written, each work serves as an epic addition to the catalog. It should be capable of holding its proofreader's attention through the requisite half dozen prepublication rereadings, though the fitness always lies on the proofer's shoulders. Through all the critical reviews, he must muster a generous spirit such that the joke still seems funny the seventh time he hears it, such that the insight, brilliant at inception, still elicits a nod of grateful recognition after the sixth or seventh reconfiguration, still bright shiny new! We deal exclusively in genius, in brilliance, in perfection. Negative self-talk holds no place at any author's table.

This amounts to grown-up work in that it's at least ninety percent delusion. Any hack, even those lacking character, can talk themselves out of finishing anything. They can doubt themselves and their otherwise good works into absolute oblivion and end up being remembered as one who exclusively dealt in self-fulfilling prophesies. The manuscript's nothing until it’s finished. Then its qualities might be fairly judged. Until then, I presume I have a masterpiece brimming with potential. Who's to say it isn't? Since it’s not quite finished yet, nobody could ever properly pass judgment on its actual qualities. It must remain a mystery until it isn't any longer; then, the market and its audience can judge it however they choose. Until they do, the author and assembler owes himself and those future readers Joystaking attention to the otherwise picky little details that entail assembling any budding manuscript. Edit with a light heart. The product, as well as its author, deserve at least that.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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