Three things happened this week. Whitney Houston died, I published my website, and I took second place in the FAB contest. Now, these might seem like unrelated events, but most Monday mornings wisdom shines at me from the strangest of places, so hear me out.
Whitney undoubtedly was one of the most phenomenal singers of all time. In terms of pure talent, I’m hard pressed to find her equal. She had that magical spark that can only be coded in your genetic makeup. You can’t buy it, you can’t will it, you can’t steal it. You can simply hone it, accept it and share it with an awed world. She had that that all of us with artistic obsessions obsess over. And yet there were those who didn’t enjoy her music- my brother, my kids, almost everyone I know with a Y-chromosome.
My website undoubtedly isn’t a work of art. I wanted it simple, Indian, and romantic. And I had this idea that a good ethnic background would help me tie these three goals together nicely. So I found that temple carving picture, did some nifty photoshoping, and viola! Then bursting with ooh-la-la, I called one of my besties for some validation (I am a writer after all, and what are we if not trees that cannot fall in the forest without being acknowledged) and this is what she said: “It looks like a pot of curry being stirred, babe.”
Then there’s my FAB entry. Two judges. One loved it. One could have loved it more.
Which brings me to my ah-ha moment. In this journey toward being published, my simple little love for writing often turns into a raging monster, devouring my self-esteem with the gusto of locusts gone wild. But in a world where Whitney can spur a skip on an iPod and an unsuspecting temple carving can become a pot of curry, what is opinion if not a crazy representation of our immeasurable differences?
As an aspiring writer this very opinion is one of my handiest tools. I invest good amounts of time and money seeking it out. The fantastic input from crit buddies, contest judges, and workshop instructors has only made my stories, my writing stronger. But sorting through the sheer breadth and variety of input is as essential a skill as any other aspect of this craft. To steal a nineties corporate mantra, “editing smarter” can set you apart from the babies.
For me, the first step to editing smarter is pulling those big girl panties on. The second is weeding out opinion from elemental errors of logic, character, plot. The third is staying true to your story. Don’t distort your story with a cookie cutter. Whitney wasn’t for everyone and even an ancient carving has the potential to look like a pot of curry.
How about you, what are your editing smarter tricks? Your opinions on making sense of opinions and making them work for you?