Thursday, April 30, 2009


Which side of your brain do you trust most?

Ever since I finished writing a nonfiction book proposal a few weeks back, I have been contemplating the concept of the creative side of the brain competing with the literal side of the brain. The ol' right brain/left brain coming into play. Or perhaps warring factions.
I like to find a fountain pen and brainstorm, writing curlicue words interrupted by doodles on luscious pieces of paper. I like to write and play with words. I frequently like to edit those words. Admittedly, I'm not sure researching and discerning the market information for my book is my forte. Don't get me wrong, I love to research and expanding or following an idea. But it seems like the research portions of the proposal should be more objective, not the subjective like the creative portions seem to be.
What do I mean by subjective? Just like finding an agent, as the writer, you determine who you think your audience will be. But you have no real way of knowing who exactly will read your book, so you research other books that may be similar without the important ingredient of *you* and what you bring to the book. You are unique. How do you quantify that? How can you be objective about you? And, if you aren't being objective, does you literal side of the brain assert itself to the right side, insisting on being heard?
Fortunately, (I think!) I worked on the marketing research first, letting my right brain rest. Then I focused on the more creative aspects, sort of eating the vegetables before getting to the chocolate cake.
Does the creative side of my brain understand that? Will it appreciate that I consider it chocolate cake and perform for me when I ask? Or do I somehow need to start treating the left side better to rile up the right side of my brain, making it jealous?
What does your right--or left--brain think about all this?
Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She has her own blog, TheWriteElizabeth, where she discovers creativity. Please note, no brain cells were harmed in the creation of this post.

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Monday, April 20, 2009


Explaining publishing to an alien, or just a family member

Lately, while trying to describe my writing projects to friends and family, I've realized how publishing and writing has it's own different language, but I never thought of how much of a different culture it might be, as well. I take it for granted that "books," "magazines," "agents," and "publishers" are general terms over which we can all find a common ground.
Sure, I blog for part of my living. I understand that the business aspect can seem quite alien. Mention Twitter and there is the patronizing chuckle and, "So, you are on Twitter?"
However, I find it strange that members of my family, who are well versed in Facebook and Goggle, seem intimidated by finding my words on the screen. Countless times I've been told, after e-mailing a link regarding posts on my open blog, "I would have read that, but I couldn't possibly figure out how to get in." And yet they can conduct online research about an obscure vacation destination and post photos from their time there on Flickr.
I've been working on a book for a collaboration, which is pretty straight-forward
. I mean, I've written the book proposal and submitted it, so I was able to explain the subject for 20+ pages. (Okay, well the jury may still be out on that statement!) It is the traditional publishing route: proposal, agent, publisher.
But then I realize that for many, who write a resume to apply for a job, the business process of writing IS from a different planet. Think about it: you want someone to pay you for your time, effort and energy for the job to write a book. But instead of just presenting your credentials and passing through the gate, you need to, in the case of fiction, finish your work or, in the case of nonfiction, have done a lot of research and market research. Often while holding down the daily job that does accept a resume and allows you in.
I'm glad that I love to write and, I guess, I don't mind that my family and friends can't seem to find my blogs or Tweets. (Perhaps the Internet is as open as you want it to be?)
But I think I'll take my mother's suggestion and keep my resume polished. Just in case my latest job application of collaborating on a book doesn't pan out.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for
CoastalCarolinaMoms. She has her own blog, TheWriteElizabeth, where she contemplates how to fill her day with joy and wonder, bypassing all (or most!) negativity and angst...particularly about the business aspect of writing.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009


Which is the most important part of the equation? Money? Creativity? Books?

For two weeks, I've been in the throes of working out a collaboration agreement for a nonfiction book proposal, not to mention the pitch and the proposal. At one point I spoke to a creative person/writer friend about what a collaboration agreement entails and how to shepherd the work into print.
It seems every discussion of traditional publishing (which is the avenue I'm following) leads to a discussion of self-publishing (which my friend is considering). Often, it seems, financial considerations recede as a creative person "just wants to get my work into the hands of my readers." Oddly, when I've held a book to which I've contributed, it has been a thrill...but I've never actually met anyone who has read one of those books. The check for those works were maybe less thrilling and sometimes, in those books, my creativity might have taken a secondary role to my skills as a writer.
Fortunately, as I spend time Twittering or blogging, I believe I am able to reach my readers and I'm able to tap into my creativity. Not having an editor can be a fabulous feeling, but I cannot physically hold my work--I've even settle for reading one of my books in a Amazon Kindle. But, then again, when I look at the analysis of the locations of blog readers, I'm amazed at how far my reach can be on the Internet.
So, in the mish-mash of this post, I guess I'm trying to sort out which is most important: to keep plugging away at writing for traditional publishing? To write your heart out and self-publish to reach your audience (including writing rambling posts like this one)? To keep your eye on the financial bottom line? And where does creativity enter the equation? What are your thoughts?

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for CoastalCarolinaMoms. She is also a freelance writer and ponders daily doses of creativity at TheWriteElizabeth. Once she shakes away all these ponderous questions about publishing, she plans on returning her focus to the book proposal. Really. Well, maybe, she might have to think about what to eat for lunch.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008


Editing: When is Too Much Too Much?

Have you ever written something so passionate, full of voice, fury, and fire, only to have it edited to shreds? Or to complete boredom?

I read a post on Seth Godin's blog, Sucking Out All the Juice, where that very thing happened to him---and I've heard it before.

Here's the beginning of Seth's post:

"Just got some work back from a new copyeditor hired by my publisher. She did a flawless job. She also wrecked my work. Totally wrecked it.

By sanding off every edge, removing every idiom, making each and every fact literally correct, she made it boring and dry and mechanical.

If they have licenses for copyeditors, she should have hers revoked."

Ouch! Seth sure speaks his mind. But he's a bestselling author and an idea genius. His out-of-the-box thinking is what people love about him, and the reason why they buy his books and read his blog.

So, when is too much too much?

Well, the first thing is to understand what a copyeditor does. In a nutshell, the copyeditor's job is to hit the Five C's: to make the copy clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent. Typically, copyediting involves correct spelling, terminology, punctuation, and grammatical and semantic errors; ensuring that the typescript adheres to the publisher's house style; and adding standardized headers, footers, headlines, etc.

That is a specific description that can be unspecific, depending on the copyeditor's taste and style guide. Most book and magazine editors use the Chicago Manual of Style--an industry (and a WOW!) standard. But what if your voice is so distinct that a standard guide can't do it justice? That's where the gray area starts, and your doubts about your writing style begin...

Seth Godin continues, "I need to be really clear. She's not at fault. She did exactly what she was supposed to do. The fault lies in the job description, not the job. If the job description of your lawyer or boss or editor or client is to make sure everything is pure and perfect and proven and beyond reproach, they are making things worse, not better. (Unless you're in the vaccine business)."

Pure, perfect, proven, and beyond reproach isn't what makes for an epic novel, but it surely makes for comprehensive reading. But who's the judge? Many of the classic masterpieces that have molded our literary language today have been less than perfect. Some "fictional" classics were beautifully flawed and ahead of their time, containing innovative language or ideas---ideas that shaped our society, influenced change, and revolutionized generations.

But what if you're writing a nonfiction book?
Well, the boundaries are going to be a lot more strict, no matter how you look at it. Even if it is "creative" nonfiction. You could call this a case of uncreative editors, or you could break it down to an editorial standard, but how do we draw the line? Honestly, I don't know.

Seth's post continues:

"Almost everything you do has some sort of copyediting filter. It might be the legal eagle or the graphic supervisor or the customer service police. They're excellent at making round things fit perfectly through round holes.

Boring and ignored is fine with them, because no one complains.

Fortunately, copy editors have a remedy. It's a word called STET. Which means, "leave it alone, it was fine." Time to teach that to your editors, wherever they may be. Maybe there should be a t-shirt.

If all you want is safe, have baby food for dinner. Just leave me out of it."

So, what I want to know is:

* Have you ever been edited too much?

(To the point you think it squashes all the Oomph out of your voice?)

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Saturday, February 03, 2007


Event Announcement: Patricia Fry Luncheon

Come meet Patricia Fry and the Editors of WOW! at this special O.C. event!

When: Saturday, February 10, 2007, 11:30 AM


Town and Country Manor
555 E. Memory Lane
Santa Ana, CA 92706
**in their Garden Room

Who: Patricia Fry, Author, Editor, President of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artist, and Writers Network)

What: Luncheon with Patricia Fry

To learn about promoting fiction, self publishing, and more.

Russell Traughber

Cost: $10.00 for event

Learn More and see who's coming HERE

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