Monday, December 13, 2010

Drifting In The Horse Latitudes

Silhouette of a sailboat in the sea at dusk

After an exciting fall where I spent a heady six weeks making revisions on manuscript #1 for an agent (who passed), my writing life seems adrift. I’m stuck in the Horse Latitudes with only minor breezes pushing me along. It’s warm. No storms are tossing me about, no sharks threaten, but it’s dull.

There’s been a few sparks of accomplishment. Book #2 has been launched. I’m 32 pages in, and while most of it’s raw, there are nuggets of potential. For me, the real writing won’t begin until that first draft is done. I’m an editor; it’s where I live.

The other spark came from a request by my father-in-law, a distinguished professor of mathematics. His long-time friend, colleague, and dissertation professor had passed and he wanted me to look at the eulogy he’d written. To say I was honored would be an understatement. Somehow I put away my awe for both the author and man he was praising, put on my editor hat, and had at it.

After emailing the edited version, I hoped I hadn’t overstepped my bounds or shown any disrespect. Here’s the reply from my father-in-law:

I loved the changes. They are right on target. You have a way of making text come to life. I will have to match the quality with the presentation. However, that is an easier when I have great material.

Wow. After slogging through the query/rejection trenches, his response really gave me a lift. I’m a lucky ducky. I too have a Ph.D. in math and could be earning a significant salary as a math professor. But no one in my family is questioning my choice to pursue my dream. That’s the greatest gift.

However, I get off on hard work and accomplishing things, which makes waiting through the query process tough. Using my writing to help my family is a bonus. Months ago, my husband—another math professor—had me write the introduction to something called a CCLI grant. It was a long shot. Most of these grants were awarded to other areas in science, but he got it. Not only that, his grant was rated number one among all the applicants.

So I told him to let the college’s grant director know I’d be willing to “polish” other professors’ grants. I don’t know if anyone will take me up on it, but it would be nice to help others achieve their dreams.

Have you found other outlets for your writing talent besides fiction? If so, let me know.


  1. That's great feedback!
    I've also written nonfiction/self-help. Not as fun as fiction, but it certainly sells better.

  2. As a lifelong fiction junkie, I was amazed to learn non-fiction outsells fiction. Then again, my husband loves biographies. So far, Andre Agassi's has been my favorite.

  3. Writing is writing, whether it's editing, first drafts, or blogging! All of it helps! Great job!

  4. True, true, writing is writing. Maybe I like editing because I usually have a concrete goal or purpose when I edit, but the first draft is so free-form--anything could happen--that all the possibilities slow me down.


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