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    Get Shredded? Put Yourself Back Together

    Q: I just had my stuff critiqued, and the editor shredded it. He might be right, but I’m done and don’t feel like going back.
    -Mike W, New York

    A: WHEN EUROPEANS WANTED TO CONFIRM DEATHS in the days before stethoscopes, they shoved a blazing hot stoker up a cadaver’s ass. This is what editing often feels like, but get used to it. Even J.D. Salinger had a hard time getting anyone to publish “Catcher in the Rye,” for God’s sake, as editors said it was too crude. Half of any critique is the critic trying to put his or her mark on your work and has little to do with improving the piece. The rest are probably ideas worth considering, such as “spell this word correctly.” The trick is to change what needs fixing while retaining the personality of the piece. Trust your gut. Consider each suggested change, but make only those you feel help your piece. You don’t want to improve your blueberry pie by baking an apple pie just because somebody personally hates the former. And don’t take editing so personally. Words and images are your trade; it’s what you sell. As I write this, someone outside my window at a neighboring bar is fighting five men trying to put him on a stretcher and haul him to the hospital. That’s a fact. It strikes me that this is a fitting image for what a good, hard edit can feel like.

    Ask Terp the Bartender about your dire needs at terpthebartender@comicfoundry.com or catch him in the message boards

    Posted by Tim Leong on February 18th, 2005 filed in Story Archive |

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