English Scares Me (or Why I Need an Editor)

Yesterday, I tweeted that writing fiction in English is sometimes intimidating to me, because English is my second language (Danish being my first). I got a couple of responses, encouraging me to write about it, and to remember the wonderful writers that came before me, who also wrote in English though it was a second language to them. Joseph Conrad and Karen Blixen come to mind, not that I would otherwise compare myself to these masters.

When I write stuff like what you are reading now, I don’t think so much about my choice of words, sentence and paragraph structure and that sort of thing. When I write fiction, those are all very important elements of portraying characters, describing locations and setting the scene. That is when I am sometimes hit with the intimidation stick – it’s easy to feel like my vocabulary is too limited, or that my style is too heavily influenced by something else.

For writing my initial draft, I try not to let it hold me back too much. The important thing is getting the story down and try to make it hold up structurally. Second draft is where language starts taking a front seat.

Thinking about it, I realized that many native English speakers also struggle with writing, for very similar reasons. Maybe we all compare ourselves to those we admire, whether we want to or not. That might make anyone doubt their abilities. The only real answer I have come up with is this: use an editor!

Best case scenario, find a professional who knows what they are doing, and have them give you notes. You can point out what your exact doubts are, and they will keep an eye out for it. And they will point out stuff you haven’t even thought of. I have written books both with and without the help of an editor, and it just confirmed that having that extra set of eyes does make a huge difference.

I have met writers who say: I can’t afford an editor. I usually counter by asking how long it took them to finish the first draft. Often the answer is several years. My point is: if your story is important enough that you will spend years of your life writing it, it should also be worth a few bucks to have an editor help you polish off the details. Many freelance editors are surprisingly affordable and willing to negotiate (they know most writers aren’t exactly rolling in cash).

If you can’t find an editor you like, use your network – if you’re writing a science fiction novel and your buddy is a hardcore sci-fi nerd, by all means have him take a look – just remember that friends don’t always make the most honest critics, because nobody likes to potentially upset their friends. It helps if your friend is a writing pro of some sort, so they have an understanding of what goes into structuring and writing a story. Librarians, teachers and journalists can make for excellent editor replacements.

Holiday Wishes 2011

I’m not a big Christmas person. I like the food, spending time with loved ones and the spirit of the season, but by the time we get around to it, I’m usually just waiting for the jingle bells to stop and Santa to go back on vacation. I hope this doesn’t automatically classify me as Naughty.

2011 has been a stressful year for me to say the least. More precisely, I would call it my least favorite of the 35 years I have been alive. Marred by death and disease, dealing with Life became the main and often only focus point. I never got the traction I was hoping for to push Another Passion as far as it deserves.

When Christmas rolls around this year, my wife will be nearly done with her radiation treatments. That’s what I am looking forward to the most, not just because of her being Cancer free and finished with treatment, but because it also symbolizes that we’re finally heading for a fresh start and better times.

If I am allowed to wish for more than that, it would be for a busy 2012. I have so many things I would like to do, in terms of growing Another Passion, but also various other projects – from apps to video, photo shoots to writing – but I need the resources to get it all done; time and money both!

I can only do so much as a single individual and having had my own life turned upside down in recent months, it has become clear that help is needed to keep up productivity when Life throws you a curveball. So I’m wishing for an assistant and/or an intern to help out! I would have taken on an intern already, if I weren’t working out of my home with a sick wife and two insane cats.

Wonderfully unexpected and possibly best thing about 2011 for me, has been the outpour of support from friends, acquaintances and strangers all. The community support during the hardest weeks around Kelly’s surgery was absolutely amazing – and continues to help both her and I through dealing with healing, hospitals and everything in between. From notes and emails to flowers and cards, everyone who has reached out, has touched us.

If I may have one final wish this holiday, it will be for my fellow creative and artistic friends to have an inspired, productive and successful 2012.

Creative Partnerships vs. Self-Motivation

One of the greatest dangers of working alone, is that you are working alone. There is no one there to crack the whip or hold the carrot, so it is up to you to find your own motivation and inspiration.

There are many tools and websites to help you with this. You can use GTD, project management, celebratory trips to the local [insert frivolous business of your choice], social networking and more, to keep yourself going. All have their pros and cons, but in my experience, none are as rewarding as Continue reading “Creative Partnerships vs. Self-Motivation”