I just ran my very first column through my first line of friend copy-editors. Each person was picked carefully and for a specific reason.
Round 1 was a friend whose opinion I respected, a friend with knowledge of marketing and media, one I knew to always be honest and kind. Column Pass.
Round 2 went to two dear friends, writers at heart, who know and love me. Column Pass.
On Round 3 I decided to cowgirl up and send my column to a “tough love” copy editor. His colorful commentary inspired me to write this post. I’m not sure if he would qualify as “tough love” or “no love,” but it was brutal (in a good way). Here are some highlights from our instant message discussion:
Him: Lead needs to be revised and it lacks a focus.
what are you trying to tell the reader?
i mean it has a focus but it’s severely obfuscated.
Me: (frantically Googles “obfuscated”)
Him: it just drops off and changes pace. Am i being overly honest?
Me: No, I appreciate the feedback.
Him: Yeah you sound like some middle-aged spinster. like it’s out of a romcom
Me: ok that was a little too honest (I see he’s typing)
(he’s still typing…)
Him: and you’re about to be in a big fat greek wedding….oh ok
Him: i’m just saying: i know you’re more creative than just doing the “Know what I hate?”
you need to have a focus for the column itself. A plan to adhere to.
Me: a focus for this column is difficult for me because it’s exceptionally flexible
I mean, some weeks if I just want to do pictures, I can do pictures
some weeks it’s going to be advice
some weeks it’s going to be horror stories
some weeks it’s going to be like a social experiment
Him: pause – if you have a plethora of horror stories, perhaps advice is not good. (you can laugh here. It’s a good line)
Me: haha well. ok I hear that
I think it’s going to be a lot like my new blog though
and my writing does change pace
because it mirrors my train of thought
which never goes at a constant speed.
you think that is bad? like I should try to make it more even?
I don’t know how to make it even-paced and sound like me
Him: I think you should do what ever makes you happy (translation – universal statement of a guy admitting defeat)
Round 3. Column Fail.
Needless to say, Round 3 had my palms sweaty and me shaking in my boots for Round 4, which was feedback from my Writing Mentor.
He polished my writing like one does an old wooden piano – bringing out a shine so glossy, one can barely notice the chipped keys. I couldn’t believe he kept the old Steinway instead up trading it in for some new shiny techie-keyboard. My piano was still there, fully intact, with a new high gloss. I was dying to ask for commentary, but after getting kicked around the ring in Round 3, I didn’t think I could handle it. What if he hates it? What if he thinks it’s shallow and flippant? What if…..ahhhhh
So, I went back to the little girls ring – a nice padded ring with a friend who loves me and has to be nice. Round 5
Me: What did you think of it? you think it’s going to make everyone love me?
She: It sounds like you! especially the part where you think that you’ve seen it all
Me: haha. bitch.
Seriously, you saw it, what did you think?
She: Yes, i saw it and it made me a new person
Me: Come on, give me a quote I can use
She: OK here we go, “Maureen, considering that the only loves in my life are ammo and yarn, i think that this will be a fun, spicy study into the crappy and crazy world that is ‘Human Relationships’ “
Me: haha I freaking love you.
She: Love you sweetheart, don’t take criticism too seriously. even if they hate you, they’ll still read it.
OK. I’m done. I’m submitting it. Column knock out.