Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Shepherding my Word Sheep.

Well, it's been a while. I've been busy working my face off (and celebrating my birthday -- woo!) since I just officially became full time at the magazine. (I know...y'all thought I already worked full time ...).

There are things to get accustomed to now that I'm a regular. A not-so-great example would be getting to the office at the same hour every morning, no matter how my hair looks or what awesome article got tweeted at me about the literary genius that lies within. Sigh. Time management isn't always my favorite thing, especially in the morning when my ideas are flowing like honey.

Nevertheless, there are other awesome aspects. One that I feel compelled to write about is how there's more of an opportunity to gently edit the writing of others and help them compose stuff that readers AND clients are going to like.

Case in point: One of my newbie writers, Miranda, is learning the ropes of marketing content. So this week I've gone over a couple of her articles with her, showing her how to make them not only good for the advertisers but also good for our readers. Naturally, this process is helping me become a better editor as well. I even called Brian on the phone and cheerfully announced that I kinda felt like him this morning when I put Miranda's original copy of a story, along with my edits, side by side on her desk.

Also, I had a super fun opportunity last week when my friend June's 12-year-old daughter, Julia, plus her friend, Ashley, shadowed me at work for the morning. I printed out a story going into the magazine and let the girls help me edit it -- we came up with a snazzy new headline, polished some phrases and generally made it flow. The girls had a blast using their creativity, and I had fun as well.

And though it's not quite as easy --  due to the fact that while I know exactly what Mount Pleasant Magazine's pages are yearning for content-wise, I have less of an idea regarding what teachers at Bishop England want --  I like editing my tutee's stuff too. Yesterday during our lesson, for example, I steered him in a slightly different direction for his research paper's introduction paragraph.

Speaking of paragraphs, it's funny. my tutee always asks for a sentence count regarding how long each paragraph should be, and I always gripe that it should be "as long as it takes to get his idea across," hoping he won't wimp out and make things too short. But when I broke Miranda's story from this morning into a few different paragraphs, they ended up only being a few sentences or so -- still, each contained its own idea. Interesting, how no two pieces of writing follow the same rule. They're all as unique as the people who composed them.

That said, I've always talked about how hard it is to teach someone how to be a better writer. As with other art forms, it's easy to assume good writing is "innate" and give up on helping someone with their craft. But I'm finding that helping other writers is helping me at the same time. What a happy result, right?!

Julia, Ashley and me! 

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